Child Custody

Custody evaluations are different from parenting evaluations in that the evaluator is asked to conduct a comparative study of parental strength and weaknesses in order to determine the best sharing-time arrangements between each parent and a particular child. The guiding principle in child custody evaluations is what constitutes “the child’s best interest.”

What is entailed in a child custody evaluation?

A typical child custody evaluation often includes general and specialized psychological testing, extensive clinical interviews of the parties, observations of adult-child interactions, the gathering of extensive collateral information from relevant third parties and even home visits. Collateral sources often contacted in these evaluations are significant others, relatives living in the home, therapists, school personnel, pediatricians and any professionals that are involved with the parents and the child. In addition, custody evaluators typically review pertinent Court documents (such as various petitions filed in Court and prior investigative reports.)

Custody evaluations are typically thought as being the most complex type of forensic evaluations. The nature of the referral questions to be determined by the Court can have different permutations. “Special issues” often addressed in custody evaluation can include the following:

  • Relocation issues – in these evaluations the evaluator is asked to assess whether a petition (typically filed by the custodial parent), for geographical relocation is in the child’s best interest.
  • Parental interference – these evaluations are designed to determine whether a particular parent (typically the custodial one) might undermine the relationship between the child and the other (non-custodial) parent.

How are custody evaluators selected?

Custody evaluators are typically appointed by the Court and function as impartial evaluators. The Court often chooses the custody evaluators based on the recommendations from attorneys involved in the case.

All Forensic Evaluations

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