Use of the MMPI-2 in Child Custody Examinations

In order to make our MMPI-2 Custody Reports more defensible in depositions and in court we have recently added source material to every one of the 26 variables. The focus of each of the 26 variables is sufficiently narrow that one or two scales are typically primary. Thus we specify precisely which scale or scales on which each variable primarily depends. When indicated we also identify one or two other scales or features that are used to refine that determination (see the sample Custody Reports). With this information you can now be quite direct in answering any such challenges as, "and on what does that statement depend, doctor?"


These 26 variables are offered as hypotheses or "hypothesis generators." The computer-produced MMPI-2 interpretations are unaffected by any examiner bias or other potentially discrediting tendency to favor one parent over the other. This is not to claim that each item with a significantly elevated score will always clinically fit just the degree of clinically documentable behavior; these are probability-based expectations, and obviously some predictions will be expected to fit better or less well than others. But typically the clinical examination demonstrates that the parent behaviors that are predicted by elevated T-scores are evident in the examination and important to key custody issues. Such a consistent and demonstrable convergence of the examiner’s information with the objective test predictions marks a major increment of hard-to-challenge credibility before the trier of fact. A clear preponderance of unbiased MMPI-2-predicted tendencies that do directly match the clinical data strongly supports the objectivity of the examiner’s corresponding conclusions and recommendations.






Bathurst, K., Gottfried, A. W., & Gottfried, A. E. (1997), Normative data for the MMPI-2 in child custody litigation. Psychological Assessment, 9, 205-211.


Caldwell, A. B. (2003). How can the MMPI-2 help child custody examiners? Journal of Child Custody, 2, 83-117.