Custody Evaluations in New York

Custody Evaluations in New York2024-03-07T19:35:07+00:00

Are you and your partner in a custody conflict over your children?

Have you received a court order for a forensic evaluation?

Are you wondering how it works and what to expect?

You have been informed by your attorney or the judge that you need to undergo a forensic evaluation with a psychologist.

What Now?

Take a Deep Breath

If the Court has ordered 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.

Many people have images from old movies of attorneys aggressively questioning witnesses. Perhaps you’re apprehensive about having to talk to a psychologist, who might ask invasive questions about your personal life. Maybe you’re wondering if you have to take a lie detector test.

Don’t worry; there are ways to navigate this process, and I can help you.

Gavel and houses on a judge's table; Custody Evaluations in New York

Why Do I Need to Do This?

“In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.”

–Thich Nhat Hanh

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 those needs. 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 figure out what situation is best for the child. The forensic evaluation is conducted by a mental health professional (usually a clinical psychologist) who is chosen or “appointed” by the court.

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, or objective, role in the process. They do not work for either side. Their job is to collect and assess information and organize it into a report that is submitted to the court.

The psychologist is often asked to make a recommendation. The report might highlight information or events that the judge was not aware of and that will help the court make a fair decision.

Father and son building with block at the table; Father seeking custody

How about the Custody Websites that Give Advice?

Indian man feeling tired after looking at website about custody evaluations

With the wealth of information available online, 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.

Why Dr. Thomson?

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.

Peggy Thomson, PhD, Therapy in NYC

Here is what an attorney said about my work: 

“I feel confident referring cases to Dr. Peggy Thomson. Dr. Thomson is a very thorough and conscientious forensic evaluator. Her empathic manner puts clients at ease, and she is adept at translating psychological jargon into understandable concepts. Dr. Thomson integrates a copious amount of information into a cogent, concise report. She is sensitive to diverse cultural backgrounds. In court Dr. Thomson is a credible and competent expert witness.”

Learn more about what to expect »

Take the Next Step

Please call at 212-666-0332 or send me an email to set up a consultation.

Latest from the Blog

Go to Top