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29-06-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 10/2016

Journal of Child and Family Studies 10/2016

Mental Disorders in Children and Parents in Family Law Proceedings: Cases on Child Protection Matters Versus Child Custody and Visitation Issues

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 10/2016
Auteur:
Jelena Zumbach

Abstract

Psychologists can contribute considerably to decision making in family law proceedings. The mental health of the parents and the children forms an important factor in psychological evaluation. It is the overall aim of this study to specifically examine the occurrence of mental disorders in evaluated family members in cases of termination of parental rights as opposed to cases of child custody and visitation rights. This data are based on 297 psychological evaluations completed between 2008 and 2012 at an evaluator association in Bremen, Germany. In this retrospective content analysis, evaluation reports were examined for indications of mental disorders in children, mothers and fathers. The data were assessed in bivariate analyses and logistic regression models. A total rate above 39 % indicates a comparatively high exposure to mental disorders of children and adolescents in this sample. A mental disorder of the mother and a mental disorder of the father occur significantly more often in cases of termination of parental rights than in cases of child custody/visitation rights. Children and adolescents who showed aggressive-dissocial behavior and aggressive-oppositional behavior were significantly more likely to be evaluated in legal issues of termination of parental rights as opposed to child custody/visitation rights. Restrictions in parental mental health and parenting capacity should be carefully weighed against restrictions in the mental health of the children and their developmental needs when conducting psychological evaluation.

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