n Africa Education Review - Guidelines for investigations and forensic report-writing by independent educational psychologists in custody disputes

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1814-6627



Very often, the expert opinions of psychologists regarding custody of minor children in a divorce case results in a 'battle of experts', where findings are contested by other psychologists. Although psychologists render a highly specialised service within the legal system, they do not always remain neutral when entering that system. Other problems stem from shortcomings on the psychologist's part, lack of guidelines or inconsistent guidelines, uncertainty about criteria as well as the complex 'best interests of the child (BIOC)' standards currently used in custody decision making. Research, mainly <I>ex post facto</I>, has explored the areas of custody investigations and report writing for the development of a practice-orientated model. A description of guidelines operationalises the model, which contains elements of both the BIOC standard and the system theory (an individual cannot be understood in isolation from the interactional context of his or her immediate human environment). The data were collected from various sources and verified by means of a literature control. This article lays down guidelines that educational psychologists can follow from the start of the custody investigation to the actual writing of the forensic report, without exceeding the boundaries of their role while maintaining neutrality.

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