Custody Evaluations

Custody-Evaluations1.4

 

Are you and your partner engaged in a custody battle about your children?

Have you received a court order for a forensic evaluation?

Are you wondering how it works and what to expect?

 

Take a Deep Breath

If the Court has ordered that you undergo an evaluation for determining custody, you might be worried and upset. The prospect of going to court and appearing before a judge is enough to make anybody nervous. Don’t worry. There are ways to navigate this.

Why Do I Need to Do This?

If parents are unable to reach an agreement about custody, the judge, usually a Family Court judge, may order a forensic evaluation. A forensic, also called a custody evaluation, is an objective assessment of the needs of each child and the ability of the parents to meet them. It’s a way of gathering information to help the judge make a decision. The court is trying to determine who the child should live with and who should be responsible for making decisions on his or her behalf. Married couples, domestic partners — couples who have children together in any configuration — may be asked to participate in a custody evaluation in order to protect the best interests of the child.

How Can a Psychologist Help?

When it comes to custody litigation and evaluations rumors abound. You may have heard people say: The Court always decides in favor of the mother. The judge doesn’t like gay parents. Fathers always end up stuck with the bill. Unlike attorneys whose job is to advocate for their client, the custody evaluators have a neutral role in the process. They do not work for either side. Their job is to collect and organize information into a report submitted to the court. The psychologist is often asked to make a recommendation. The report might highlight things about the case that the judge did not know and that will help him make a fair decision.

How About the Custody Websites that Give Advice?

With the popularity of the internet, parents often turn to the web for help and direction. There are several sites that focus on custody evaluations, including discussion boards, blogs posted by parents who give advice based their own court experiences, and sites sponsored by parents who say they will give you the “inside story” about “winning” a custody battle. Unfortunately, many of these websites are written by angry and bitter individuals who have had disappointing experiences with a custody conflict. They are seeking to attract an audience to commiserate with them. Most of the “advice” that they share about how lawyers, psychologists, and courts work is biased, or just plain wrong.

How I Can Help You

I have had years of experience conducting custody evaluations. I have worked directly with attorneys on private cases, and I have become familiar with many of the judges in the New York Family Court. In addition to expertise with a variety of psychological testing (personality measures and custody questionnaires, admissions tests, and ERB), I have specific experience working with children in school and individual settings. I know how to establish rapport with your child so that you and your family will feel at ease throughout the custody evaluation process. In my private practice I work with clients from diverse populations, including the gay community and individuals with special needs.

 

Want to learn more?

Request my free guide“Custody Evaluations: What to Expect.”
This booklet will guide you through the process and answer questions you might have.