Child Custody Determined by Psychological Evaluation in San Diego
Family courts will often issue orders for psychologically-based testing and evaluation for the purposes of helping determine which custodial arrangement would be in a child’s best interest.
In these instances, the court may use a child custody evaluator, who may or may not be affiliated with the court, who is qualified to conduct the process.
The Family Court’s Responsibilities in Custody Evaluations
- Keep the child’s health and safety factored in throughout.
- Encourage and maintain court standards of confidentiality.
- Cannot make the child disclose a preference for his or her custody situation.
- Limit premature disclosures of information until all necessary information to reach a conclusion has been located and evaluated.
- Maintain sensitivity toward familial issues such as financial status, religion, race, gender, values, or other orientations.
- Disclose any conflicts of interest that may arise during the proceedings, and suspend the proceedings to allow for a resolution of the conflict before resuming the process.
The Child Custody Evaluator’s Responsibilities During the Evaluation
- Keep the best interests of the child’s health and welfare in consideration.
- Limit the child’s psychological trauma whenever possible.
- Explain, based on the child’s age and ability to understand, the evaluation to him or her. Outline the purpose and goals of the evaluation, placing emphasis on the confidentiality involved in the process.
- Explain the purpose(s) of the evaluation in clear writing that is geared for the comprehension of a general audience.
- Provide a summary about how information is gathered and assessed. Explain the psychological tests that will be conducted and how the results are measured and what conclusions can be drawn from them.
- Disclose any confidentiality limitations or concerns that may exist.
- Provide analysis that is in accordance with the requirements of the court. An explanation as to how the interpretations and findings relate to the child’s need for development, how the child relates with each parent, the quality of environment that each parent can provide, and any feedback that the child expresses concerning the issues the court is managing.
- Review any related past law enforcement or agency records.
- Observe the interactions between the parent and child.
- Interview each parent, separately or together.
- Report the historical parenting arrangement that the child has experienced.
- Report any presence of mental illness, domestic or child abuse, and substance abuse concerns.
- Reach beyond the immediate family for interviews to gather information and observations, such as from siblings, stepparents, etc.
- Consult with another expert if and when information is introduced that is beyond the evaluator’s expertise, or scope of experience, to accurately assess and interpret such findings.
- Report on any aspects of the evaluation that were limited as a result of an inability to access the necessary information, lack of cooperation from relevant persons, or other circumstances.
- Be prepared to make a temporary or interim custody recommendation if necessary.
Being involved in a child-custody-related conflict can give you stress and confusion about which course of action to pursue. Since 1981, the legal team at The Law Office of Thomas M. Huguenor has been providing the best representation for clients throughout San Diego, La Jolla, and Del Mar. San Diego Magazine named the firm a "Top Lawyer." For an attorney who will strive to protect the future of your children and your family, make the call to (858) 458-9500.