How to Use Scientific Evidence in a Custody Case

There are many types of evidence that are commonly used at trial. Scientific and forensic types of evidence can be extremely helpful in proving your case, but there are rules and standards that these types of evidence must meet before they can be submitted during a trial. In general, scientific evidence is based off of knowledge that has been developed by using the scientific method. This means that the basis for the evidence has been hypothesized and tested and is generally accepted within the scientific community. This could mean that the theory on which the scientific evidence is based has been published in scientific journals and has been subjected to peer review within the scientific community.

In a family law case, scientific evidence usually comes in the form of a custody expert. Custody experts are usually psychologists who are appointed to evaluate the familial situation and advise the court on the expert’s opinion regarding the best interests of the child. Under the legal standards of evidence the expert is to follow certain protocols pertaining to the admission of the evidence. There are often many steps that must be taken before a piece of scientific evidence can be put forth in a courtroom as factual evidence. In general, a scientific theory must have established itself in the scientific community and become generally accepted as the truth before it will be asserted as evidence at trial. This is where you can really strengthen your case. Let’s take an example. Let’s assume that you are going through a custody case and the expert comes out against you. That means that the court appointed expert has recommended that the child be with the other parent. Most attorneys will just tell you that you are out of luck. However, there is so much more that should be considered. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating the use of scientific evidence in your case.

  A.   Did the expert adhere to scientific standards?

  B.   Is the expert’s opinion scientifically reliable?

  C.   Can you obtain your own expert to challenge the expert’s opinions?

  D.   Can you obtain your own expert to give another opinion?

These are just a few of the considerations when it comes to scientific evidence in family law. To learn more contact our custody experts at or call us at 505-880-8737.