Greater Brisbane


Incorporating Attachment Assessment in Custody Evaluations

July 2011 | Research papers


Carol George, Marla B. Isaacs, and Robert S. Marvin

Attachment with parents is central to a child’s development. It is well established that the quality of this attachment in early childhood is a strong predictor of developmental and psychological functioning throughout the life span. One of the primary issues in custody evaluations is assessing the quality of the child’s attachment to each parent and the parents’ capacity to foster security and to consider what this might mean for short- and medium-term decisions about their care. The nature of attachment measures is summarized, and the combined use of three attachment-caregiving instruments in a custody evaluation is illustrated through the case of a toddler whose parents were engaged in a high-conflict divorce. The case study demonstrates how, in addition to standard clinical observations, including a set of attachment-based instruments with a standardized psychological test battery provided information critical to a recommendation for custody and parent visitation.


Children and Youth, Families, Legal, Mediation/Family Dispute Resolution