A court may require custody evaluations when parents cannot agree on who should get custody of children or settle on a visitation plan. An evaluation consists of a mental health expert examining a family, and then making a recommendation to the court for custody or visitation plans that are in a child’s best interests. Evaluations ordered by a court are not confidential, as any information gathered can be brought into court and the evaluator used as an expert witness if the case goes to trial.
Assessments often include multiple interviews with each parent, interviews with each child, history-taking, and some measures of parenting characteristics and personality. An evaluation may include observation of child-parent interaction, questionnaires about parenting style or emotional health, as well as talking with others involved with the children such as teachers or pediatricians.
Once finished, the evaluator will make recommendations about your family, which may include custody, visitation and a parenting plan outlining how parents should share their children and how to handle resolving future conflicts. An evaluation may also conclude that parents and/or children should receive therapy, parenting classes or re-evaluation after a child ages and changes. During certain problem situations where there is substance abuse or violence, the evaluator may recommend further evaluation after treatment or a set amount of time.
To learn more or request assistance, please call Marsha Schechtman, LCSW at 770.753.4911 or Howard Drutman, Ph.D. at 678.867.7020 at the Atlanta Behavioral Consultants.