Custody assessments help with decisions about access and parenting time. There are different types of custody-related assessments. Depending on what is needed, these can include assessing children, assessing one or both parents, or assessing the whole family. PN7 and PN8 assessments are done through Court Order (Practice Note 7 & Practice Note 8). Parents sometimes request similar assessments on their own to help with decisions made during mediation.
Voice of the Child Assessments ensure that children have an opportunity to be heard in custody proceedings. They also give parents a chance to understand their children better. Voice of the Child reports help the Court make decisions. They also help parents work together to co-parent more effectively.
Needs of the Child Assessments are important when a child has some type of need that is important to understand - like a learning disability, ADHD, Autism Spectrum, intellectual disability, anxiety, depression, or language delays. These assessments ensure that everyone understands the child's challenges and needs so that everyone work together in a child's best interests. Needs of the Child reports help parents and the Court make good decisions for children. Parents who have these assessments often wish they had done so much earlier and find that they help with many parts of their child's life. If your child has difficulty with school, learning, attention, emotions, behavior, friendships, or relationships... we strongly recommend a Needs of the Child assessment.
Parent Psychological Assessments can be done with one or both parents when there are concerns about parenting capacity, mental health, or parent ability to meet a child's needs. As well as giving information about concerns, these reports can outline steps to better parent capacity. Parents who have restricted access to children or conflicted parent-child relationships sometimes request these assessments to get advice about what might help.
Triage Assessments involve doing a brief evaluation in order to then outline the types of services that would be most appropriate for the family to move forward in the most efficient and least intrusive way. Triage Assessments are similar to full custody assessments in that everyone is met and information is also obtained from sources around the family, but the process is much shorter (and cheaper) and the end results are different. No recommendations about parenting time or access result from a Triage Assessment. Rather, a plan outlining the types of assistance likely to be most effective and efficient, as well as least intrusive (and costly), is developed.
Focussed assessments to answer specific questions can be very helpful. Examples of specific questions could include evaluating a parent or child for a particular problem, evaluating the severity of a particular problem, determining an appropriate treatment plan for a particular problem, or evaluating changes after treatment.
Counseling can also be arranged through PN7s. This counseling might be for a child, a parent, both parents, parents together, a parent-child combination, or for the family. Mediation can also be ordered through PN7s.
Custody Assessments are sometimes called bilateral assessments and involve working with everyone in the family to help parents and the Court make decisions. These assessments are called PN8 (Practice Note 8). They are comprehensive, lengthy, and deep. PN8 assessments involve interviews, observations, psychological testing, and interviews with people outside the family. PN8 reports provide the Court with extensive information that is used to help with decisions. PN8 assessments are typically only completed by senior psychologists.
In all of these assessments, psychologists remain objective and unbiased. Parents and their lawyers often come to mutually agreeable decisions after these types of assessments. Some parents proceed to court hearing. The psychologist can serve as an expert witnesses if needed.
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