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Interviewing the Expert Witness in Child Custody Cases

19th Judicial Circuit

Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem Training

College of Lake County – September 11-12, 2012

  1. Differing Roles in Interview Process for Attorneys/Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative*750 ILCS 5/506*In Re Marriage of Bates, 212 ILL. 2d 489, 289 ILL.Dec. 218, 819 N.E. 2d 714 (2004)*In Re Marriage of Kostusik, 361 ILL.App.3d 103, 296 ILL.Dec. 732, 836 N.E 2d 147 (1st Dist., 2005)
    1. Right to Communicate with 604(b) and/or 604.5 Experts
    2. Manner of Communication
    3. Discoverable Information
  2. Who is Interviewing Who
    1. Preparation before Interview
      1. Do the Interview yourself
      2. List of questions ahead of time
      3. Questions on behalf of children
      4. Questions on behalf of attorney
      5. Research about evaluator background
      6. Type of Expert Needed
    2. Cost
      1. Retainer Payments – Confirmed
      2. Costs and Billing Practices
      3. Timing of Payments
      4. Itemized Billing Statements
    3. Points of Interest
      1. Question Role/Parameters of Evaluators
      2. Type of Evaluation to be Performed
      3. Timeline for Completion of Evaluation
      4. Questionnaire and Approach to Interviews
      5. Needs for Psychological Testing – Outside Expert
      6. Types of Psychological Testing to be Initiated
      7. Maintain Notes of Interviews and Investigations
      8. Discuss Role of Attorney/GAL/Child Rep. in Process
      9. Any Particular Bias/Prejudice that would impact the Case
      10. Who is going to do the work
  3. Deposing Child Custody Expert Significantly Different than Interview
    1. Discovery is Key – Use Your Own Subpoena and Rider
    2. Background
      1. Examination of Curriculum Vitae
      2. Examine Training Background and Areas of Specialty (Who trained under)
      3. Experience as Testifying Experts
      4. Affiliations and Organizations
      5. Board Certified – “What does that mean”
      6. Potential Bias or Prejudice with Litigants, Lawyers, Courts, Issues, Etc.
      7. Any times criticized or reprimanded, etc.
    3. Process of Evaluation – Industry Standards*Child Custody Evaluation Standards of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (2010 Edition)**American Psychological Association Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations***Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Model Standards of Professional Practice for Child Custody Evaluations
      1. Interviews
        1. Timing and Length of Interviews (Reasons Why)
        2. # of Interviews with Each Party/Child (Alone/Together)
        3. Method of Note-taking (handwritten and typed)
        4. Previous Questionnaires and/or Live Interviews
        5. Who present during Interviews and Where Interviewed
        6. Third Party Contacts (Phone/Person/Writing)
        7. Home Visits vs. Office Visits (Differences/Why)
      2. Information Gathering
        1. Collateral Contacts -Solicited or Requested
        2. Attorney or Legal Contacts -Written or Oral
        3. Actively Seeking Information or Accepting Only what is presented
        4. Records from Other Therapists or Counselors (Releases)
        5. Records from Schools
        6. Watch for Vague Summaries of Sources of Information
        7. Information gathered but not included in Report (why not)
        8. Conflicting Information (how decide what is more important)
        9. Time period when information gathered/reviewed
        10. Questions for Parties about information or just accepted/discarded
      3. Psychological Testing
        1. New Expert or Same Expert
        2. Types of Tests to be Performed
        3. Requested by Litigant or Expert
        4. Who Grades Tests (credentials of that person)
        5. Reliability of Testing Data
        6. Preservation of Data
        7. Objective vs. Subjective Scoring and Conclusions
        8. Other Interpretations Possible
      4. Writing of Report
        1. Prior Drafts
        2. Who drafted Report
        3. Time to prepare Report
        4. What Considered/What Discarded (Why)
        5. Follow-up after data gathered and interviews completed
        6. Time Report Submitted vs. Current Events
        7. Update necessary for any reason

For more information download the PDF version.