Child Custody Assessments

A child custody assessment is an investigation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.

The assessor interviews the parents to determine their parenting abilities. If the assessor is a psychologist, the assessor will also conduct psychological testing of the parents. The assessor also meets with the children to determine what the children’s preferences are and what the children have to say about their relationship with each parent. The assessor may visit the parents’ homes to see what sort of facilities the parents have for the children. The assessor may also interview what are known as “collateral sources” – the children’s teachers, physicians, etc.

All of this investigation is to determine what is best for the children, and ultimately what the custody and access arrangements are to be.

It’s important to note that the assessor can only make recommendations; what the assessor says is not binding on the parents or the court.

You can challenge what the assessor states on many grounds. However, to do so is a difficult and expensive process that most parents choose not to pursue. In the circumstances, the assessor’s recommendations are normally binding.

Assessments tend to be expensive – normally costing between $5,000 and $10,000. If this is something that the parties’ can’t afford, there is also the Office of the Children’s Lawyer which may provide a social worker to do a similar assessment without cost.

In a high conflict custody cases, it used to be almost automatic that the court would order an assessment. In recent years, however, judges are becoming more reluctant to do this, citing concerns about the costs, the stress that the assessment puts on the parties and the children, and the fact that the parties can provide the court directly with a lot of the evidence that an assessor would. That being said, a child custody assessment will generally provide a much more comprehensive and objective portrayal of the situation than if this were left to the parents.

Other Articles about Child Custody

  • Common Child Custody Concerns – Perhaps the biggest thing that parents fear with regard to the issue of child custody is the possibility of having their children testifying in court.
  • Child Custody Assessments – A child custody assessment is an investigation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.
  • Age of Child and Custody – One of the most common questions parents ask is at what age can their children choose the custody and access arrangements.
  • Making Visitation Easier On the Children – Here are some ways to try and ease the visitation process and make it a little less painful for the kids.
  • Divorce and Relocating Children – Even if you have sole custody of your children you still must obtain the permission of the other parent before moving.
  • Joint Custody – “Joint custody” means that both parents have the right to make these decisions for their children.
  • Avoiding Summer Visitation Problems – When summer is coming, divorced and separated parents frequently run into problems with their custody and visitation situations during vacation periods.
  • Relocation Issues – What happens when one parent wants to move away with the children?

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