Adolescent Input Into Custody Decisions: Evaluating Decision-Making Capacities

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Child Custody; Adolescent; Adolescent Psychology; Decision Making; Forensic Psychiatry




Historically, children's voices were conspicuously absent from custody decisions. In recent years, states have begun to take children's wishes into consideration under the “best interests of the child” standard. When disputes arise between parents regarding the preferences of the child about potential custody arrangements, custody evaluators are often employed by courts to gain insight into the child's preference. Though the research literature and societal values reflect that younger children may not be capable of participating in custody determinations, the proper input of adolescents is less clear. Forensic evaluators must consider adolescents' cognitive and decision-making capacities and developmental factors that may impact their abilities. The following case vignettes illustrate approaches to the consideration and evaluation of adolescents' developmental psychological capacities in relation to their input into custody proceedings.

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Citation: Larson, K.A. & McGill, J. (2010). Adolescent Input into Custody Decisions: Evaluating decision-making capacities. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 10(2), 133-144.