Special Issues in the Forensic Assessment of Children and Adolescents

Kathryn Kuehnle, Steven N. Sparta, H. D. Kirkpatrick and Monica Epstein

in The Oxford Handbook of Child Psychological Assessment

Published in print April 2013 | ISBN: 9780199796304
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Special Issues in the Forensic Assessment of Children and Adolescents


This chapter describes the forensic mental health assessment of children and adolescents related to psycholegal questions in three areas of civil law and one area of criminal judicial proceedings. The authors describe general principles of forensic assessment, including considerations of tests and methods, as well as special assessment issues applied to each of four common areas of assessment. In the forensic assessment for child custody, evaluation procedures are described for how best to assess the relationship between a child and each parent, where a broad consideration exists for the child's best interests. Child abuse and neglect cases, a second type of case calling for a forensic assessment, are usually heard in child dependency departments of the legal system. This chapter describes the assessment of the child's and/or the parents' psychological functioning, with particular reference to the child's safety and well-being. Forensic assessment also is described regarding certain types of civil matters, usually involving personal injury cases and how the psychological functioning of individuals may be affected by legally relevant events in the person's life. Finally, the authors describe the forensic assessment for determining the competency to stand trial of children or adolescents in criminal proceedings, including the individual's capacity to understand and meaningfully participate in the legal proceedings.

Keywords: forensic assessment of children and adolescents; civil judicial proceedings involving children; criminal judicial proceedings involving children; child abuse

Article.  10058 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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