Bari L. Nathan


The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides the statutory requirements for marriage and dissolution of marriage in Illinois. Section 604(b) gives courts the discretion to appoint an evaluator in order to aid in the determination of child custody by evaluating the relevant parties and writing a report. If and when these 604(b) evaluators are appointed, there are virtually no guidelines that set forth what they may or may not do in the course of their evaluations. As a result of this lack of guidelines, 604(b) evaluators often employ clinical assessment instruments (i.e., psychological tests that assess clinical constructs such as personality) in order to aid in coming to a conclusion concerning custody. Judges often tend to favor an evaluator’s opinion and fail to notice the tests’ biases and lack of validity. As a result, the main determinant in child-custody decisions often comes down to the conclusions of faulty psychological testing despite the fact that other more effective methods such as interviewing may have been used in the course of evaluation. This process leaves much room for questioning whether the way child-custody evaluations are being employed are in fact serving the best interests of the child.

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