MMPI-2 and Other Psychological Tests in Family law
Daniel J. Hynan, Ph.D., ABAP
Dr. Hynan is a forensic and clinical psychologist, board certified in assessment psychology, who has conducted hundreds of evaluations of child custody and parenting time since the early 1990s. His second book, Parenting Plans: Meeting the Challenges with Facts and Analysis, has very recently been published by the ABA.
Both because of my extensive work with children and families of divorce, and the fact that I have published research on multiple psychological tests specific to child custody litigants, I am highly familiar with both the strengths and limitations of relevant psychological testing. Legal professionals have raised questions about the use of such tests in family law cases. Also, some psychologists have criticized the use of testing in court-ordered evaluations of parenting time and custody.
In this article, I first focus on the MMPI-2 because it is the most used psychological test and therefore the target of many criticisms. The MMPI-2 is a measure of adult emotional and personality functioning. It has multiple scales that assess a wide range of functioning, and scales vary in terms of their research support and usefulness. A major question raised by attorneys and judges pertains to what relevance the MMPI-2 has to parent-child relationships and the best interest of the child.