Initial appointments for custody evaluation are usually available within 2 weeks.
If you have any further questions, please contact me.
An unfortunate reality of divorce is the decision of where the children will live. When the parents cannot agree on this issue, the Court may appoint a qualified professional such as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or Psychologist to conduct a formal evaluation of the child and the parents. This is where I come in.
My job is to conduct interviews, assesses you and your co-parent’s respective situations, and make a recommendation to the court on how to resolve custody and/or parenting time (visitation) disputes. It is quite common to experience some anxiety about this process. I understand that many people who find themselves in this situation have been in constant warfare, and you may not have a lot of information about what you can expect through the court process. I will do my best to explain the evaluation and court process by answering your questions and assist each parent in reducing anxiety and encourage both parents to feel better about the process.
The first step is a Court Order that will usually name the evaluator who will conduct the evaluation and how the evaluation will be paid. The final decision concerning custody is made by the Court, not by the evaluator.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Custody Evaluation?
The evaluation always addresses the needs of the child, not those of the parents. Thus, for example, the fact that a parent may be lonely without the child, is not relevant to the question of with whom the child will fare best.
The child’s needs are not the same as what the child wants. For example, even though a youngster expresses a desire to live with one parent or the other, this may not necessarily be in his or her best interests.
What Is Involved in a Custody Evaluation?
Psychological testing provides an additional source of information that cannot be obtained through interviews alone. With very young children, interviews may be conducted as play sessions. Some young children can express themselves more clearly through the action of play than through conversations.
In special circumstances, a custody evaluation may involve visits to the home or school, but these are not typically necessary.
In addition to interviews, school records, health records and other documents will be reviewed as necessary. Parents may obtain these records themselves, or sign releases so that I can send for the documents.
How Long Does a Custody Evaluation Take?
After all interviews and testing have been completed, the analysis of data and the preparation of the written report usually takes two to three weeks.
How do you make recommendations?
In move-away cases, it is important to note that I might not even make a specific recommendation, because relocation issues are driven by legal issues and factors. It is my job to evaluate the family and provide the evaluation data and my analysis of the data to the court. In move-away cases, there are many factors that converge before a decision can be made. I will certainly provide my analysis of the relevant factors that Oregon and Washington statutory and case law demand, as well as any other relevant psychological factors to be considered. However, it is the judge’s job to give weighting to those factors and in a move-away case, it is often impossible for me to make as clear a recommendation as I might in other custody evaluations. It is not uncommon for me to describe my analysis of all relevant factors and then suggest a set of recommendations based on the potential weighting of the court. As such, if the court weighs certain factors as more relevant than certain other factors, I might recommend in one direction, but if the court weighs certain other factors as more relevant, I might recommend in the other direction. This ensures that I do my job (i.e., evaluate and analyze data and factors) while encouraging and supporting the judge to do his or her job (i.e., weigh those factors and reach a decision).
Who gets a copy of the report?
What is the Cost?
Is the information kept confidential?
their statements may not be confidential, though I may inform you, your attorneys, and the court if I believe it is.in your child’s interest to protect that confidentiality. I will inform all collateral witnesses that there is no confidentiality in the process. This protects your due process rights and ensures that I can gather necessary information for my evaluation. It is understood that I will be providing the court and the attorney(s) with a written report of my child custody evaluation. In addition, after I have completed my evaluation report and sent it to the attorneys and the court, my entire file, including all notes, psychological test data, and anything else in my file, could be made available to the attorneys and the court upon a legitimate request by any of the parties.