Who will hold your children’s future in their hands?
When your children are at the center of legal proceedings, their best interests are determined in a court of law by judges and lawyers.Parents understand the fragility of childhood and want loving choices for their family. Concerned parents often feel helpless and uncertain when the system places their aspirations on a busy docket of heavy caseloads and strict time constraints. There has to be a better way. Psychologists are trained in child development and relationship formation. They assist judges in decision making by offering psychological perspectives on what children need to thrive.
Custody evaluations are conducted by a doctoral-level psychologist. The evaluation consists of approximately six sessions per parent including individual parental interview sessions, interview/observation sessions with the child(ren), individual child interviews when appropriate and in-person home visits. A series of psychological assessments and questionnaires are administered to parents, stepparents and/or paramours. Depending on the age of the child, additional child assessments may be administered. Interviews with grandparents and/or family members may be conducted via an office visit or teleconference. Other collateral contacts and information will be included as determined or requested. A report thoroughly detailing the information gathered through interviews, observations, document review, psychometric test results and collateral contacts is provided. The report includes a custody recommendation along with a suggested parenting plan and treatment recommendations, if appropriate. If sexual abuse allegations are made or have been made in the dispute, there will be an additional cost applied as needed.
Parenting and Family Assessments
Parenting assessments are similar to custody evaluations; however, fewer sessions and collateral contact are involved as in a custody evaluation. Home visits are not conducted, but the same series of psychological assessments and questionnaires are used as in custody evaluation. A report describing the parent’s psychological profile and how it relates to parenting is generated. Treatment recommendations are included as part of a parenting or family assessment.
Relocation evaluations are similar to parenting assessments in terms of data collection. The outcome of a relocation evaluation addresses the suitability of one parent moving away from the opposite parent with their mutual child(ren).
Visitation evaluations are similar to parenting assessments in terms of data collection and specifically address the appropriateness and possible format for visitation between a parent and child in circumstances of (1) alleged or confirmed cases of physical or sexual abuse, (2) alleged or confirmed substance abuse, (3) ineffective, deficit, neglectful or emotionally abusive parenting skills, (4) reunification of a child with a formerly absent parent and/or (5) threat of abduction.
Best Interest/Friend of Court/Issue Specific Evaluations
Other forensic evaluations for family courts can be customized for judges, legal representatives and clients based on a pre-determined focus of assessment. Each of these require some initial consultation to determine specific referral questions.