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  • Custody Evaluations/Parenting Plan Evaluations

    Q:        What is a custody evaluation?

    A:        A custody evaluation is:

    An assessment of the needs of your children and each parent’s ability to meet those needs.Directed toward helping your family make a positive adjustment to divorce.Attentive to past events, present resources and future needs of the family.Concerned with the strengths and weaknesses of both parents.Focused on the “best interests” of children.

    A custody evaluation does not:

    Determine fault or blame for your divorce.Take one parent’s side against the other.

    Q:        What happens in a custody evaluation?

    A:        Interviews: A child custody evaluation will consist of a series of interviews. You should expect to talk to the evaluator alone and with the other parent. Separate individual interviews will give you the opportunity to present your issues and concerns about the children and the other parent. Conferences with both parents, when determined by the evaluator to be appropriate, allow the evaluator the opportunity to assess parents’ capacity to work together.

    The evaluator may also schedule an interview with you and the children. This may take place in the evaluator’s office or it may occur in your home. Spending time with you and your children will allow the evaluator to observe the relationships between family members. The evaluator may interview other people in the children’s lives, including stepparents or domestic partners.

    Information gathering: The evaluator may request your written consent to obtain school and health records, social service and police information, and any other documents that contribute to a complete understanding of the family. The evaluator may wish to talk with some of these people in order to understand how others see the issues. The evaluator may also ask both parents to complete a detailed questionnaire asking about you and your relationship with your children and the other parent.

    Written tests and psychological evaluation: Psychological testing may be required when information about each parent’s emotional and mental status would be helpful to the judge. A psychological evaluation is conducted by a qualified psychologist. The psychologist will want to talk with each parent and may administer several paper and pencil tests. You can ask the evaluator to tell you more about the kind of psychological evaluation that is being requested.

    Both parents participate: A thorough evaluation requires that both parents be involved in the process. Be cautious of taking the children to your own separate evaluator. Courts may consider these evaluations to be incomplete. One-sided evaluations may be a duplication of time and money and may subject your children to added stress.