Psychologist Acknowledges Inevitable Mistakes in Family Law Evaluations

There are going to be things that don’t get done, things that get done backward. It’s inevitable. … There are so many ways to make mistakes.

Dr. Michael Flynn, Texas forensic psychologist

At the February 2019 TSBEP board meeting, Flynn (who was disciplined in 2017 by TSBEP [here]) acknowledged that forensic psychologists in family court make mistakes because of the assignment’s complexity.

Flynn started by presumably addressing a question to Patrick Hyde, TSBEP General Counsel about whether he could discuss a specific complaint.

Flynn: “How long did it take? And, can, can I speak? I just recently settled one. Patrick and I worked out a deal. Settled one that had been hanging over this psychologist’s head for four years. It was four years old that she was still you know hadn’t gotten resolution. Now, if investigators are looking for any flaw at all in the conduct of a child custody evaluation, then the evaluator is helpless. Litigation in general, but child custody studies particular are comprised of so many moving parts and so many unpredictable parts, so many details, so much emotional noise and so many competing demands, that perfection can’t be done. Child custody evaluators are thrown into a swirl of information and agendas and emotions. And there are going to be things that don’t get done, things that get done backward, it’s inevitable. So when the board looks closely at every aspect of a treatment or evaluation (inaudible) they’re gonna find something amiss. It’s inevitable. In a child custody evaluation, there are so many ways to make mistakes, mistakes in form and in detail that expose every competent evaluation to second guessing, and the benefits of hindsight from the board a year later, two years later.” (Source: TSBEP, TSBEP February 2019 public meeting)

Are any “mistakes” acceptable when determining the fates of children in court proceedings?