Category Archives: Family law

Assessing the reliability of child sex abuse allegations: Protocol for the attorney and forensic practitioner

Child sex abuse allegations commonly arise in criminal prosecutions, child protection matters, and divorce/custody disputes. These allegations are high stakes situations for both children and the accused. This outline provides a framework for assessing the reliability of allegations. It is based on a large evidence based review of the literature. Context—what is the family/relationship context […]

Proper and Improper Uses of Therapists in Child Custody and Access Disputes

The Family Court and attorneys regularly assign community therapists to provide information concerning a child’s visitation. Apparently judges and attorneys think that is what therapists are there for. These assignments usually involve reimbursement by a third party payor (i.e., health insurance). This practice blurs the lines between clinical and forensic roles, often involves therapists who […]

New variety of shark sighted in Hawaii waters

Readers may remember my post on “Swimming with Sharks” a few months back–a set of guidelines and admonishments to clinicians working in and around the Hawaii Family Court. Well, a new variety of shark has recently been sighted in Hawaii waters. These are mainland forensic psychologists who have started coming to Hawaii to sell their […]

Clinical Report: Identification and Evaluation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This superb article sums up the information comprehensively. Available at the American Academy of Pediatrics website in pdf.

Lay Judgements About Child Custody After Divorce

Sanford L. Braver and his associates have done it again. A psychologist at Arizona State University, he seems to be doing the most cutting edge and controversial divorce research today. He has been villified by certain factions in the divorce wars. Wonder what his newest research will provoke? In this study, Braver, et al, examined […]

Legal Capacity Assessments in the Elderly

Here is a presentation I am giving to geriatric psychiatry residents at UH Medical School this Friday. The presentation focuses on the basic procedures and concepts in conducting legal capacity assessments in the elderly. Legal Capacity Assessments in the Elderly Marvin W. Acklin, PhD, ABPP Department of Psychiatry JABSOM Honolulu, Hawaii February 25, 2010  It is […]

The Judge’s Dilemma—Management of Domestic Violence Claims in Family Court (corrected)

Domestic violence advocates are dissatisfied with Family Court management of custody cases, asserting that Family Court judges “marginalize or throw out” domestic violence claims. Others argue that false or one-sided claims of domestic violence are used to gain the upper hand in custody disputes. Domestic violence (DV) is a real and pervasive problem and the […]

Assessing Parental Risk in Child Custody Cases Involving Internet Sexual Behavior

Abstract: One type of claim in parenting assessment (child custody)1 cases is that one parent, typically the father, is alleged to be engaging in improper or compulsive sexual behavior via the Internet. The sexual behavior at issue can range from frequent sexually explicit chats with other adults to compulsive viewing of adult pornography. In more […]

Custody Disputes and Distorted Parent-Child Relationships

It is a commonplace in family relationships in custody disputes that parent-child relationships are distorted and often unhealthy. These distortions arise from several sources, including parental insecurity (hence, the common sleeping together), distortions arising from the evaluation process itself, and what I call “competitive parental attention.” It may be covert or overt. It is observed in both parents.  […]

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Today’s (Saturday, 10/2/2010) Honolulu Star-Bulletin (p. A5) announces a major conference on parental alienation syndrome (PAS), being held this weekend in NYC ( As you may be aware there is an effort underway to place PAS into the DSM-V.  There are no cases that a forensic psychologist is likely to encounter, even grisly homicides, that are […]