Although we believe that parents are in the best position to make decisions about their children, sometimes they request the opinion of a Custody and Parenting Time Evaluator. We respect the confidence that parents place in us to help with such an important decision. We believe that a Custody Evaluation should be a "settlement tool," and we make every effort to be thorough in our evaluations and to make recommendations that parents and attorneys can use as a basis for negotiation.
CUSTODY /PARENTING TIME EVALUATION PROCEDURES
The evaluation begins when the following
four (4) requirements have been met.
A. Signed court order appointing Judy Sherwood as an evaluator.
B. Both parties' signatures on contract.
C. Initial deposit by check or credit card (Master, Discover, American Express, Diner's Club, or Visa)
D. Preliminary joint meeting (both parties) and Judy Sherwood.
FEES - Fees for a custody evaluation are outlined in the Custody Evaluation Agreement. An introductory session may be scheduled at the regular hourly rate before embarking upon the evaluation. However, the initial deposit must be received prior to scheduling or holding any appointments for the actual evaluation.
INTERVIEWS - Interviews will be conducted with you and the other parent; with you alone; with the children (together and possibly separately); with you and the children; with new spouses or significant others. These usually take place in the evaluator's office, but may include a home visit.
COLLATERAL INFORMATION - You will be asked to identify collateral resources who might have useful insights into the children and parents. Examples include: day care providers, teachers, coaches, counselors, pastors, health care providers, law enforcement agencies, etc. Releases will be signed prior to contact with these resources. Although neighbors, relatives and friends also may have impressions and opinions and may be contacted as part of the evaluation, other resources are usually more objective in their assessments.
PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING -You may participate in psychological testing (MMPI-2, The Minnesota Multi Phasic Personality Inventory and MCMI III-Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory) and a Parenting Stress Index (PSI) as a routine part of the evaluation. Other psychological testing and/or interpretation for you or the children will be administered as needed for the assessment.
REPORT / REVIEW OF FINDINGS - The goal of a comprehensive custody evaluation is to provide impressions, observations and recommendations from an objective, professional resource as to the "best interests" of the children. These recommendations hopefully will serve as a basis for settlement negotiations between the parents and/or the attorneys.
- Upon the completion of the interviews and collection of data, your attorneys will be scheduled for a conference. Impressions and recommendations will be reviewed with them. They will be given an opportunity to ask questions and/or engage in preliminary negotiations about possible settlements. They will be asked to review the findings with you individually following that meeting.
- A written report will be provided to both attorneys. That report will include findings, recommendations and the basis for the recommendations.