How to Handle a Custody Trial

This Program begins with the all-important topic of having a strategic plan for your case from the very outset and then move into the evidentiary structure of expert testimony, with special emphasis on the crucial issue of evidentiary reliability (Frye/Daubert analyses).

Attention will then turn to the often critical problem of the forensic custody evaluation, including a discussion of how to prepare your client to do well in that process.

A detailed discussion of the proper use of psychological testing in the forensic process and how to handle related issues in the courtroom will follow.

A strategic and tactical discussion concerning direct and cross-examination will then set the stage for a trial
demonstration of those skills.


  • 2010 Reform Legislation: Case Law Update
  • Planning Your Case Strategy/Preparing Your Client
  • Evidentiary Reliability of Expert Testimony
  • The Appointment Order
  • Psychological Testing
  • Direct & Cross-Examination Technique
  • Direct & Cross-Examination: Trial Demonstration

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Tim Tippins does his usual complete program to benefit we family law practitioners!

Daniel G. Tronolone, Buffalo

About The Authors

timTimothy Tippins Esq.

Timothy M. Tippins, Esq. is an adjunct professor at Albany Law School and serves on the faculty of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology and on the Affiliate Postdoctoral Forensic Faculty at St. John’s University. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Psychology at Siena College. He is a private practitioner who has engaged in matrimonial and family law practice since 1975 and devotes his practice exclusively to serving as trial counsel and consultant to other family law practitioners on a nationwide basis, with special emphasis on the presentation and cross-examination of expert mental health testimony. Tippins has served in all major professional leadership positions in the New York family law community, including President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers - New York Chapter, Chair of the NYSBA Family Law Section, and Chair of the NYSBA Task Force on Family Law. Tippins is a regular feature columnist for the New York Law Journal and is the author of the multi-volume treatise New York Matrimonial Law & Practice (West Publishing).

Company Name: MatLaw Systems Corp.

Cynthia J Tippins Esq.Cynthia J Tippins Esq.

Cynthia J. Tippins, who has been designated in Best Lawyers in America, has engaged exclusively in family law practice since 1989. She maintains a private practice devoted exclusively to appeals in matrimonial and family law matters. Ms. Tippins is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and has served on its Amicus Curiae Committee.

She served on the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association Family Law Section and has served as Co- Chair of its Family Court Committee and its Legislation Committee, as well as serving on the Section’s Custody, Legislation, and Equitable Distribution Committees. Cornaire served as Counsel to the NYSBA Task Force on Family Law. She has lectured at CLE programs for MatLaw Systems Corp., the Law Guardian Training Program sponsored by the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, the New York State Bar Association, and local bar groups, including the Women’s Bar Association. Ms. Tippins has also lectured at Hofstra Law School and Albany Law School for programs sponsored by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In addition to frequent Legal Updates, she has spoken on such topics as Preparing the Custody Case for Trial, Child Custody: The Substantive & Procedural Law, Effective Discovery & Motion Practice in Matrimonial Actions, Litigating & Negotiating Child Support Issues, Negotiating & Drafting Separation Agreements, and Effective Use of Demonstrative Evidence. Her published writings include numerous contributions to CLE seminar books, and such articles as The Status of Spousal Maintenance and the Impact of the 1986 Statutory Amendments, published by the Westchester County Bar Association. Ms. Cornaire is also a member of the American Bar Association Family Law Section.

Company Name: Harris, Conway & Donovan, PLLC


picture-21Dr. Jeffrey Wittmann

Dr. Wittmann is a licensed psychologist and trial consultant whose practice concentrates on trial support for attorneys in custody and access matters and on forensic work-product reviews. He serves as a consultant for major law firms nationally and has provided custody evaluation services both at county clinics and in private practice since 1985. He previously held an appointment as Adjunct Clinical Professor at SUNY Albany where he taught forensic psychology at the doctoral level. Dr. Wittmann is a recognized expert on the intersection of law and psychology, on professional practices in the child custody area, and on Frye/Daubert issues related to expert testimony in family matters. He is regularly on the faculty for training seminars offered to attorneys and mental health professionals, and has been a frequently utilized scholar-trainer for judges in Family, Supreme, and Appellate courts in New York and elsewhere nationally. Dr. Wittmann is on the editorial board of the Matrimonial Strategist and previously served on the board for the Journal of Child Custody. He is the author of “Custody Chaos, Personal Peace” (Perigee, 2001) and of numerous professional articles regarding forensic psychology. Together with Timothy Tippins Esq., he is the author of Empirical and Ethical Problems with Custody Recommendations: A Call for Clinical Humility and Judicial Vigilance, an award-winning article published in the Family Court Review in 2005 that generated widespread scholarly debate and that is a frequently-used template for critiquing the custody evaluation process. His CAAS model for analyzing child custody evaluations is the first comprehensive tool designed specifically to assist attorneys in negotiations and trial preparation, a model he outlines in his book entitled "Evaluating Evaluations: An attorney's Handbook for Analyzing Child Custody Reports" (MatLaw, 2013).