Child Custody Evaluations

 

 

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When parents cannot agree on custody and visitation (parenting plan) for their children, judicial officers may order an evaluation by a neutral child custody professional, who is a licensed mental health professional contracted with Placer Superior Court. The goal of a child custody evaluation is to provide the Court and the parties with objective information and assessment about a family to assist the Court in issuing orders when parents disagree about the parenting plan for their children. The child custody professional will prepare a report that summarizes each parent's ideas about what would be best for the children and may include information from other people who have had contact with your children. The child custody professional analyzes the family dynamics as they affect the children, and searches for a solution that serves the best interests of the children. Court may use the information contained in an evaluation report to issue custody orders. Parties may also use the information to reach an agreement.

There is a fee for evaluations. Unless the Court orders the cost waived or deferred, fee must be paid to court before a child custody professional can be appointed and commence the assessment. The fee may be divided equally between the parents or divided based on each parent's ability to pay.

Two types of evaluations are available:

Partial Evaluation is a brief assessment limited in scope and time (up to 3 hours). When ordered, Court appoints a child custody professional to prepare a report with recommendations on disputed parenting plan. The professional will review relevant documents, interviews the parents and identify any agreements reached by the parents. At the professional’s discretion, parties’ children and other people may also be interviewed. A summary report with a recommendation for a parenting plan assessed to be in the children’s best interests will be prepared. This report will be provided to each parent (and attorney if represented) and filed with the court (as a confidential document).

Fee for partial evaluation/brief assessment is $275. Unless the Court orders the cost waived or deferred, $275 must be paid to court before a child custody professional can be appointed for the assessment.

Full Child Custody Evaluation is a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the children. Court appoints a child custody professional to conduct the evaluation and prepare a report for the parties and the Court. Full evaluations usually involve multiple interviews with parents, children, and other people, review and examination of documents and collateral information. Full evaluation may also include home visits and observations of the children and each parent.

The child custody professional will prepare a written evaluation report that includes the description of the information obtained and considered by the evaluator. Evaluator may include detailed parenting plan recommendations that are consistent with the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the children. This report will be provided to each parent (and attorney if represented) and filed with the court (as a confidential document).

Generally, Court will schedule a hearing set to take place sixty (60) to ninety (90) days from the time the full evaluation is ordered. The actual amount of time it takes to complete each evaluation will vary, depending on the scope and purpose of the evaluation and other considerations, such as the amount of documents reviewed, number of people interviewed, schedule and availability of the evaluator, parents, etc.

The fee for full evaluation is $100 per hour. The total cost is capped at $1,500. The deposit of $1,500 must be paid to court before a child custody professional can be appointed and commence the assessment unless the Court orders the cost waived or deferred.

 

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