Custody Evaluator's Credentials Questioned In Lawsuit

Dr. Stephen Doyne Has Been Involved In 3,000 To 4,000 San Diego Custody Cases

Dr. Stephen Doyne, PhD, is widely used in the San Diego Family Court as a custody evaluator. His job is to advise the court on where children of divorce should live, which parent is more fit. The evaluations can be costly, both in emotion and dollars. Clients told the 10 News I-Team they paid Doyne between $5,000 and $30,000.

“A child custody evaluator has tremendous power and influence,” said Marc Angelucci. He’s an attorney representing Dr. Emad Tadros in a civil lawsuit against Dr. Doyne alleging fraud and negligence.

Dr. Tadros is Vice Chief of Scripps Behavioral Health Services. He was a client of Dr. Doyne and felt Doyne’s work was unprofessional. When Tadros researched Doyne’s credentials, he believed they were falsified and dubious.

“I think it’s a big deal to have misleading credentials, particularly when you are a child custody evaluator that the courts refer people to,” pointed out Angelucci.

While Dr. Doyne is a licensed psychologist, questions remain, for instance, the “Diplomate” title Dr. Doyne uses.

In a letter filed in court documents, Dr. Doyne signs his name and calls himself a “Diplomate of the American College of Forensic Examiners.”

The college, Angelucci says, is a “sham organizations” that “sells fake diplomas.”

“They’ve given credentials to a cat,” he said.

The cat was named Zoe. D. Katze. The American Bar Association Journal reported how the housecat was credentialed.

The I-Team called the American College of Forensic Examiners for a comment. They were told they could not have any information without the signed consent of the member they were calling about.

Dr. Doyne’s resume, also filed in court documents, lists Doyne as an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego Law School.

I Team Reporter Lauren Reynolds questioned Angelucci “true or false?”

His response, “From what we’ve seen, completely false.”

In court documents, U.S.D. claims no record of Dr. Doyne as a professor, searching “back to the mid-1970.”

Maureen Miller, a client of Dr. Doyne, said Doyne made another claim to her.

“He had told me that he had been a professor at U.C.S.D.”

A letter from U.C.S.D., also filed in the court file, says after “extensive research” Stephen Doyne has not been directly employed by the University of California San Diego.

In Doyne’s declaration to the court he says he worked at both universities “25 to 30 years ago” and that “nobody keeps records that long.”

We requested an interview with Dr. Doyne. His attorney, Christopher Zopatti, said his client “can’t personally respond” to our questions because of the pending lawsuit. However, he wrote, “Dr. Doyne stands by his record of education and experience.” Zopatti called the allegations against Dr. Doyne “unsubstantiated.”

John Van Dorn, a Doyne client, said “You have a certain expectation that the courts have vetted out the person they are appointing.”

Dr. Doyne is one of a dozen custody evaluators repeatedly used by San Diego Family Court. The court had no response to the allegations against Dr. Doyne. The court also clarified that it does not verify the professional licenses or the resumes of the custody evaluators.