The Powell tragedy last week was a horrific example of what can go wrong when one parent becomes terribly disturbed during the course of a child custody proceeding. Of course, there were already serious questions about Josh Powell and his involvement in his wife's disppearance. Combine those suspicions with his children's recent revelations of the last time they saw their mother, and that she was apparently in the trunk of their father's car, and a recipe for disaster was created.
Many will want to place blame on those involved, including DHS and the caseworker assigned to the case. But the fact is, if there had been sufficient evidence that something like this was coming then it is likely that more steps would have been taken to limit or even suspend Josh's visitation. But like many cases, it is difficult to get accurate psychological profiles of parents given the limited time involved and the limited budgets of DHS and/or the parents themselves. Then of course there is the problem of identifying whether there is a need for psychological testing to begin with. Maybe the parent is presenting as completely normal in meetings and at court hearings?
This article discusses the Powell case and that maybe judges have too much discretion in determining custody and visitation issues. Powell article