An archival study of decision-making in child custody disputes

J Clin Psychol. 1992 Jul;48(4):564-73. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(199207)48:4<564::aid-jclp2270480420>;2-a.


Investigation files and court records of 282 disputed child-custody cases (San Diego, 1982) were coded and analyzed to determine predictors of judicial decision. Log-linear analysis of physical custody decisions as a function of factors contained in the files suggested that three categories of factors (mother, father, and child) were linked causally to a counselor's recommendation, which was linked subsequently to the judge's decision. Judicial decisions could be predicted accurately by a model that took very few factors into account. Only two factors directly affected the judge; counselor-recommendation and child preference. The major factor that influenced decisions was counselor recommendation (60% of the cases); cases that lacked this recommendation were predicted by an inferential measure of the child's preference (15% of the cases).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • California
  • Child
  • Child Custody / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Records
  • United States