A child custody evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of the child or children’s needs. With respect to these needs, it assesses the capacity of each parent to meet them as well as the areas in which each parent requires assistance to do so. Dr. Adler’s role is one of an independent evaluator, providing information to the court regarding these issues. He may make recommendations regarding parents’ contact and involvement with the child or children including the delegation of legal decisions, relocation issues, custody arrangements, visitation and parenting plans.
Child custody evaluations usually take several weeks to complete. The evaluation and recommendations will not be provided until there has been an opportunity to interview each parent, review the psychological test results, conduct collateral interviews and observe the parents and the child or children. The following procedures are generally used in completing child custody evaluations:
- Parent Interviews: Separate interviews will be conducted with each parent.Relevant life history is collected through interview and a mental status exam is used to gather information on mental health issues. A parenting interview will be conducted in which issues such as approaches to discipline, parenting strengths and challenges and an understanding of the child or children’s needs will be assessed.
- Child Interviews: Depending on the nature of the case and developmental level, interviews with the child or children will also be conducted.
- Testing: Each parent will be administered tests of psychological functioning and complete self-report measures related to parenting. The parents may also be asked to complete additional testing depending on the nature of the case. In some instances, Dr. Adler will administer psychological tests to the child or children involved in the case.
- Home Visit: Ideally, the child or children will be observed in each respective home environment on at least one occasion. It is preferable that they be observed with the parent after being in that parent’s care for several days prior to the visit.
- Collateral Sources: Dr. Adler will review collateral records, including relevant medical records, criminal records, previous evaluations, treatment records and legal records.