PARENTING PLANS AND CUSTODY ASSESSMENTS

This is a comprehensive family assessment by a qualified and experienced mental health practitioner which evaluates the individuals needs of the child in relation to the abilities of each parent and the quality of family relationships. The assessment typically provides information related to and recommendations about the most appropriate residential schedule for the child and the most appropriate structure for making child-related decisions.

The purpose of the assessment is to assist the parents and judges in deciding on a plan that is in the best interests of the child based on the unique characteristics of the child's family system.

These assessments are often helpful when: other methods of dispute resolution have been unsuccessful and the parents continue to have very different views of the best parenting plan; or there are very serious concerns about the child and/or the parenting ability of one or both parents.

The assessment is a structured process with information gathered from many sources and through varied methods. Information is gathered from clinical interviews, parent-child observations, collateral interviews/reports, review of court material, etc. Generally, the assessment takes 30 to 40 hours to complete, including a written report to counsel and the Court.

An assessment can be initiated by order of the Court, or upon the agreement of the parents in signing a retainer agreement with the mental health practitioner. Acceptance for services is upon referral by counsel only.