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About Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D.

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Keeping Kids Out Of The Middle
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About Dr. Garber
Dr. Garber's
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See Dr. Garber's professional publications
                        in family law
Dr. Garber
                        provides expert testimentary and
                        non-testimentary consultation to counsel
Learn about HealthyParent.com
Dr. Garber
                        is available to train professionals, parents and
About psychological testing in forensic
                        family matters
Dr. Garber provides forensic family
                        evaluation services
Dr. Garber is available to review case

Lawyers know the law, litigation strategy and courthouse procedure,
but seldom know more about
child development and family dynamics
than what they observe in their own homes after work.

You wouldn't argue a complex property settlement without consulting
forensic accountants, tax and inheritance experts.

You wouldn't argue torts without first soliciting expert medical opinions.

So why would you ever enter a courtroom on behalf of an aggrieved parent
without first consulting an expert in child development, family functioning and parenting?

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About Dr. Garber
Dr. Garber 2022
Ben Garber is a New Hampshire licensed psychologist, parenting coordinator, former guardian ad litem, and expert consultant to family law matters across the United States and Canada. Dr. Garber is a prolific writer and acclaimed speaker. He is the author of ten books concerned with better understanding and serving the needs of children, more than two dozen juried professional publications concerned with high conflict family dynamics, and hundreds of popular press articles.

Learn more about Dr. Garber's writing, speaking and presentations Read more here

Across roles, Dr. Garber is first and foremost a children's advocate. As a clinician, as a consulting expert, as a writer and as a speaker, Dr. Garber's goal is to help parents, professionals, courts and organizations to better understand child development and family dynamics so as to put children's needs first.

Dr. Garber's child-centered approach is particularly important in his work as a family law consultant. Far too often, experts serve the needs and wishes of litigants, adding an unnecessary and expensive layer of conflict to an already top-heavy and inefficient process. Whether working for counsel or the court, Dr. Garber retains the right to speak out in the best interests of the child.

Dr. Garber has lived and worked in New Hampshire since 1987. He is active in the greater Nashua community, has consulted to the state government, and has been instrumental in the development of child-focused agencies and legislation. He is active in family law organizations throughout New England and around the planet. He published his "HealthyParent" column (and more recently blog) for the Nashua Sunday Telegraph twice monthly for more than twenty years. Learn more here 

Ben Garber is himself a son, a husband, a proud father and grandfather. Outside of work, he is an avid kayaker, fisherman. and woodsman, an aspiring stone mason and a cynical cartoonist Cathartics.

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Expert consultation to family law matters:
Family law matters don't belong in our courts.

Our courts are designed to resolve criminal matters. Our judicial officers are trained to think in terms of guilt and innocence, victim and perpetrator, and to dole out punishments. Bringing the intimate and emotional relationship conflicts inherent in separation, divorce, "custody," "visitation," and relocation (for example) before these courts is a bit like asking a surgeon to remedy a virus. The answer often makes the problem worse.

The acrimonious nature of the judicial system polarizes parties. Lawyers fuel conflict in the name of zealous advocacy, driving the wedge between parents deeper. Everyone loses under these circumstances, no one more so than the child. 

Of course, there are exceptions. Some courts and some jurists get it. Some jurisdictions have created family courts and filled them with mediators and arbiters who understand at least the basics of child development and family dynamics. Dr. Garber's books, "The Family Law Professional's Field Guide to High-Conflict Litigation" and "Developmental Psychology For Family Law Professionals" and numerous related publications are helping to lead the way. Read more here

When family law matters are brought before the conventional courts,

a child-centered family law consultant can shift the process from
a finger-pointing, name-calling who-done-it,
to a well-informed, time-efficient negotiation intent on serving a child's needs.

As an expert family law consultant, Dr. Garber will:

  • Review and help you to interpret academic, psychometric (i.e., testing), and psychotherapeutic records relevant to custody determinations;
  • Review and critique Guardian ad litem process, reports and testimony
  • Review and critique proposed evaluation methods and instruments in light of current best practices, relevant ethics, and the emerging literature;
  • Review and critique existing individual and family systems evaluation  (e.g., "custody evaluation") reports in advance of deposition, examination and cross-examination.
  • Educate counsel, Guardians ad litem and/or the court in relevant areas of child and family development and such "hot button" areas as alienation and enmeshment, custody and special needs children, and "the voice of the child."
  • Work with counsel to prepare for deposition, examination, and cross-examination of witnesses
  • Provide concise, simple and clear expert testimony focused on the child's needs and the family's dynamics
As an expert family law consultant, Dr. Garber will NOT:
  • Coach your client so as to distort his or her participation in evaluation, testing or investigation
  • Put the child's needs second to your litigation strategy or your client's wishes

How do you know if Dr. Garber's expert family law consulting services can benefit your case?
Call or e-mail now  to learn more Contact Dr. Garber

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Speaking and continuing education presentations

Dr. Garber is privileged to address child-centered professional audiences across the globe. His half-day, full-day and two-day workshops are entertaining, informative and routinely well-received. He provided more than one dozen webinars in lieu of in-person trainings during the pandemic. A sample of the continuing education topics he has recently addressed includes:

  • Structure reduces anxiety: Improving structure in parenting and in parenting plans
  • “What is a "mature minor"? Child and family development in the context of divorce”
  • "For the love of Fluffy: Transitional objects and high conflict divorce."
  • “The voice of the child in high conflict family law matters”
  • “Assessing and addressing the dynamics of high conflict divorce.”
  • “Listening to the voice of the child”
  • "Repairing the polarized family: Cognitive behavioral methods in 'reunification' therapies."
  • "Voice not choice: The child's wishes in the context of divorce and development"
  • "Improving custody evaluation time-efficiency and ecological validity: A process-oriented observational protocol."

View Dr. Garber's one-hour closing keynote to the Ohio Supreme Court judicial section in its entirety View the video here

Dr. Garber welcomes the opportunity to speak to your group or organization.
Please contact him directly for cost, travel and scheduling details Contact Dr. Garber to learn more

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About psychological testing in family law matters

Psychology first distinguished itself as a field from medicine through the development and administration of standardized diagnostic testing instruments. Although psychology has grown far beyond testing, psycho-diagnostic assessment today remains a thriving and valuable field. Psychological testing can be a reliable and valid means of understanding the individual. Psychological testing can be particularly useful in criminal matters, with regard to occupational training and placement, and when diagnosis can help to guide intervention.

Read more about adult psychometric testing in custody matters at right:

Click here to access the
                                    full article

"... it is important to note that the definition of
mental disorder included in DSM-5
was developed to meet the needs of clinicians,
public health professionals, and research investigators
rather than all of the technical needs of
the courts and legal professionals."

American Psychiatric Association
Read more here

Dynamics, not diagnoses: Family law matters are not about  individuals. Questions concerning a child's future care and well-being are about the quality if the "fit" in relationships. For example:
  • How does a mother's particular strengths and weaknesses fit the unique needs of her child?
  • Is a father sensitive and responsive to his children's needs?
  • Are two adults able to put aside their differences in order to meet their children's needs?
Because psychological testing quantifies and qualifies the individual's functioning, it is often of little or no value answering relationship questions, at a tremendous cost in terms of money, time, and stigma for the person tested. Determining that Mom is depressed or that Dad has a character disorder has no necessary bearing on how eight-year-old Billy is cared for. Worse, these and similar diagnoses commonly exacerbate litigation, turning custody contests into arguments over which parent has more or worse diagnoses.

For these and related reasons, Dr. Garber seldom uses standardized psychometric assessments in his work with families. As an expert family law consultant, Dr. Garber seeks to educate the court about the dubious reliability and validity of these instruments when a child's needs are at stake.

Learn more here Read
                            more here
  • Garber, B.D. & Simon, R.A. (2018). Individual Adult Psychometric Testing and Child Custody Evaluations:If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Wear It. Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 30 (2), 325-341.
  • Drozd, L. & Flens, J. (2005). Psychological Testing in Child Custody Cases. Haworth Press.
  • Hagan, L. D., & Hagan, A. C. (2008). Custody evaluations without psychological testing: Prudent practice or fatal flaw? Journal of Psychiatry & Law, 36(1), 67-106.
  • Otto, R.k.; Edens, J.F. & Barcus, E.H.  (2000). The use of psychological testing in child custody evaluations. Family Court Review, 38(3), 312–340.
  • Ellis, E. M. (2012). Are MMPI–2 Scale 4 elevations common among child custody litigants? Journal of Child Custody: Research, Issues, and Practices, 9(3), 179-194.

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When parents bring child-centered conflicts into the courts, their options are quite limited:

  • Common: The court can seek to resolve the matter directly and without assistance. Lawyers and parties will argue their cases and the judicial officer will bang his or her gavel, issuing a decision that may represent a compromise between the adults' wishes without ever having seen or heard the child in any manner.
  • Good: The court can appoint a Guardian ad litem (GAL) to investigate specific questions. The GAL serves as the court's eyes and ears and boots on the ground, observing, collecting, and digesting data and feeding it back to the court. These data can then be considered in addition to counsels' and parties' arguments before the gavel is banged and a decision is handed down.
  • Better: Parties agree to keep the matter out of court by engaging in collaborative law, mediation/arbitration, and/or early neutral evaluation. these are all forms of alternative dispute resolution that tend to be quicker, cheaper, and more child-centered processes.
  • Best: When all else fails, the court orders that parties participate in a comprehensive child-centered family evaluation to be conducted by an impartial, skilled mental health professional and intended to address the specific issues in conflict. Parties and their children are interviewed and observed. Collateral references are collected. Medical, mental health, educational, occupational, criminal and historical records are digested. These data are then presented to the court in the form of a report, thereby making the process impartial, comprehensive, and genuinely child-centered. 
Dr. Garber provides comprehensive, child-centered family system evaluations. Each evaluation is tailored to the specific family's needs and the questions asked by the court. The process is rigorous and demanding. It can require in excess of sixty (60) hours of work, but the time and effort and emotion and money invested in this process are both far less than that invested in high conflict litigation and a far better investment in the child's future.

Dr. Garber's pioneering process-oriented observational protocol has globally improved the quality, efficiency and validity of systemic evaluations in every context. Read more here Read more here
Read more

Although the terms and details of every family systems evaluation are unique, this generic sample Service Agreement may help to explain the process Read a generic evaluation
                                      Service Agreement
Read more here

For further details, please contact Dr. Garber directly
Contact Dr. Garber
Read more:
  • Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation (AFCC, 2006) Read more here
  • American Psychological Association Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations (APA, 2010) Read more here
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Case Review

Lawyers know the law, litigation strategy, and courthouse procedure, but seldom know more about child development and family dynamics than what they observe in their own homes after work. You wouldn't argue a complex property settlement matter without consulting forensic accountants, tax and inheritance experts. You wouldn't argue torts without first soliciting expert medical opinion. So why would you ever enter a courtroom on behalf of an aggrieved parent without first consulting an expert in childhood, families and parenting?

Case review is the process of dissecting the history of a family's conflict, a child's development from conception through the present, and the history of litigation, so as to advise counsel what next steps might best serve the child's needs. For example:

  • Case review can identify a child's developmental, psychological, medical, and/or educational needs that litigation has failed to consider to date as these are relevant to future caregiving decisions. For example: How do parents' differences about the diagnosis and treatment of their son's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) bear on custody Read Pasquale v. Pasquale
  • Case review can identify logical, procedural, technical, and/or ethical flaws in past evaluations and/or psychotherapies relevant to future caregiving decisions.
  • Case review can educate counsel and/or the court about the many dynamics (e.g., alienation, enmeshment, and/or estrangement) that co-occur when children resist or refuse contact with one parent in favor of the other, how best to identify and remedy these pressures learn
                                  more here

Case review can be an invaluable component of competent, quality representation, but will always be limited by it's second-hand nature. The conclusions reached through case review are always predicated upon the specifics of the documents reviewed. Whenever possible, the stronger position will always reflect the expert's firsthand, impartial evaluation of parties Read
                                about evaluation

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For courts and judicial officers
For lawyers,
                        attorneys and pro se litigants
For Guardians ad litem
For forensic
                        family evaluators
For litigants
Read more here