Entering the fray of divorce proceedings can be intimidating and stressful at best. Even though parents may want to keep the best interests of their children at heart, sometimes they get caught off guard and caught up in an emotional vortex of negative emotions. As sad as it sounds, the courts are all too familiar with parents in conflict and how that conflict may require the court to order a child custody evaluation to determine how custody will work. Many states now support equal custody for both parents and a placement schedule that is 50/50. Gone are the days when only one parent becomes the sole caregiver. What may help a judge determine the placement schedule in a custody dispute is the child custody evaluation.
I have been conducting child custody evaluations for the past 20 years. I utilized a structured protocol supported by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). If you would like more detailed information on the AFCC protocol, please feel free to check it out on-line at afccnet.org. The protocol is specific to making recommendations to the court based on sound clinical guidelines which include structured 1:1 interviews, parenting-skills testing, psychological testing as well as ancillary screening for domestic violence and substance use disorders. In addition, collateral interviews (like grandparents, etc) are a part of the process. Come the final report, the judge will have a very good picture of how the parents will co-parent and manage conflict which, if not managed appropriately, might jeopardize their children's well-being. As aforementioned, most states now support equal placement of the children, but there are certain patterns of parental behavior which may necessitate different placement.
In conducting child custody evaluations, I am very sensitive to the needs of the litigants as the entire process can seem like an ordeal. Litigants are always briefed on their rights and the rights of their children throughout the interview and testing process. There are no surprises, and appropriate releases are discussed and signed prior to any interviews taking place. My fees are reasonable and can be paid in partial payments over the course of the evaluation period. All fees are due by the time the final report is ready to be submitted to the court. An additional fee is charged if I am required to testify in court in order to support my recommendations. Evaluators can be chosen by litigants through their attorney or chosen by a judge. In some cases litigants may ask the judge, through their attorney, to appoint an evaluator such as myself.
Thank You for Referring Your Family and Friends.