A Critical Examination of Suitability and Limitations of Psychological Tests in Family Court
Family Court Review, Vol. 45, p. 157, 2007
Posted: 3 Apr 2007
Psychologists are frequently consulted by the courts to provide forensic evaluations in a variety of family court proceedings. As part of their evaluations, psychologists often use psychological tests to assess parents, guardians, and children. These tests can have profound effects on how psychologists arrive at their opinions and are often cited in their reports to the court. However, psychological tests vary substantially in their suitability for these purposes. Most projective tests in particular appear to possess little scientific merit for evaluations within family court proceedings. Despite these serious limitations, expert testimony derived from evaluations using both projective and objective tests is often admitted uncontested. This article reviews the psychometric properties of psychological tests that are widely used in family court proceedings, cautions against their unfettered use, and calls upon attorneys to inform themselves of the limitations of evaluations that incorporate these tests.
Keywords: family court, psychological evaluations, psychological tests, experts
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