J Korean Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry.  2020 Apr;31(2):53-57. 10.5765/jkacap.200005.

The Concept and Historical Background of Custody Evaluation

  • 1Raon Psychiatric Clinic, Incheon, Korea
  • 2W Psychiatric Clinic, Seongnam, Korea
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Jeju National University School of Medicine, Jeju, Korea


This article reviews a wide range of literature on the standards and process of child custody evaluation in the US, and proposes custody evaluation standards appropriate to Korea. Custody evaluation refers to the process of making psychiatric and psychological evaluations of each parent and the child during a custody dispute and presenting to the family court a report of custody evaluation with the aim of safeguarding the best interests of the child. In the past, it was thought that children arethe fathers’ possessions or that younger children should be raised by the mother; however, currently, custody rights are evaluated in accordance with the principle of the best interests of the child. The principle is all-encompassing and vague and hence, the court makes increasingly more requests to mental health professionals for custody evaluation. Since the Seoul Family Court introduced the expert consultation system in 2017, the involvement of mental health professionals in child custody decisions has increased in Korea. Custody evaluators should try to be neutral and find the objective facts, keeping in mind that their role is to aid the court in making a custody decision.


Child custody; Divorce; Best interest; Family court; Forensic psychiatry
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