Child Custody Essentials: Coping with Forensic Evaluations


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This program will focus on what is often the decisive evidence in contested custody proceedings: that presented by the forensic custody evaluator. As most family law practitioners are aware, these evaluations have long been controversial, so much so that their use and validity have recently been the subject of statewide attention as a result of a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Forensic Custody Evaluations (BRC) appointed by New York’s Governor last year. The BRC Report was published in January 2022 and its various recommendations are currently being considered by the Legislature. This program will include a review and analysis of those recommendations and their potential implications if enacted into law. The program will focus more broadly on practical approaches that attorneys may use to challenge forensic testimony. Attendees will learn how to read forensic reports with a trained, critical eye to spot deficiencies in the premises and methodologies used to generate the opinions put forth and how to exploit those deficiencies through effective cross-examination of the evaluator and the presentation of rebuttal expert witnesses to drive home to the trier of fact how those deficiencies undermine the reliability of the evaluator’s opinion. The program will also discuss selected evidentiary and ethical issues frequently encountered in custody litigation. You will not want to miss this timely and practical program!

Program Agenda
I. Recent Developments: Blue-Ribbon Commission Report; Pending Legislation; Salient Decisions –
II. How to Analyze/Critique a Forensic Report –
III. How to Cross-Examine the Forensic Evaluator –
IV. Selected Evidentiary Issues
V. Selected Ethical Issues