10.36.09.05

.05 Standards of Practice in Conducting a Child Custody Evaluation.

A. In order to determine legal and physical custody arrangements that serve the childís best interests, a psychologist conducting a child custody evaluation shall:

(1) Assess the following:

(a) Parenting skills and capacities of the adults; and

(b) The childís psychological functioning and developmental needs;

(2) Use multiple methods of data gathering, including, but not limited to:

(a) Individually interviewing and assessing each party and each child, if age appropriate;

(b) Observing the interactions of the child with each parental figure, in the respective households, whenever possible; and

(c) Requesting and assessing additional relevant information whenever possible, such as:

(i) Third-party interviews;

(ii) Medical records;

(iii) School records; and

(iv) Legal documents;

(3) Remain impartial and objective;

(4) Interpret assessment data and clinical information in a manner consistent with current standards of practice;

(5) Base recommendations on the needs and best interests of the child, as supported by the:

(a) Evaluation data; and

(b) Applicable law;

(6) Create and maintain professional records in accordance with COMAR 10.36.05;

(7) Include appropriate disclaimers regarding the limitations of the recommendations, such as:

(a) Unavailability of information;

(b) Lack of cooperation of the parties;

(c) Lack of compliance with court orders; or

(d) Inconclusive assessment data; and

(8) Decline to conduct the evaluation as set forth in COMAR 10.36.05 if the psychologist feels that the psychologistís objectivity would be impaired.

B. In the event a psychologist determines sufficient information is not available, the psychologist may decline to make recommendations.

C. A psychologist performing a child custody evaluation may not:

(1) Engage in multiple relationships with any of the parties to the pending child custody proceeding, including serving as a:

(a) Mediator;

(b) Therapist;

(c) Life coach;

(d) Parenting coordinator; or

(e) Litigation consultant; or

(2) Render an opinion concerning the psychological functioning or custodial fitness of a individual involved in the custody proceeding who has not been personally evaluated by the psychologist during the current child custody evaluation.