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GAYLE ZIEMAN, Ph.D.
Child, Family and School Psychologist
Girard-Indian School Professional Building
2741 Indian School Road, NE
5 Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone: 505.255.6002

 

CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION
COMPARED TO
FULL FAMILY CONSULTATIONS

 

A Child Custody Evaluation includes all procedures of a Full-Family Consultation and adds numerous beneficial data collection and reporting features. In many legal cases the added features can be important in establishing for the Court the best interests of the children. A Child Custody Evaluation is a more thorough, in-depth process and provides conclusions and recommendations which are more defensible in court if challenged.

I. Data Collection Steps and Processes Added In A Child Custody Evaluation

  1. With Each Parent
    All procedures done in a Full Family Consultation are completed, plus the following:
    1. If communication patterns between the parents are unclear, then the parents are interviewed together to assess their future ability to communicate and cooperate
    2. Testing is done with each parent. Each must complete extensive psychological testing (approximately 2 hr.) to screen for mental health issues which may impact parenting.

  2. With Each Child
    All procedures done in a Full-Family Consultation are completed plus the following:
    1. Each parent household is visited (approx. 1.5 hours). This home observation allows the psychologist to get to know the child(ren) and to observe the family in structured, psychologist-specific activities. For families living outside central New Mexico, other arrangements for meeting the child(ren) and observing the family in structured, psychologist-specific activities are made.

  3. With Each Stepparent Figure (or other adult frequently in a parent’s home)
    1. Testing is done. Each adult must complete extensive psychological testing to screen for mental health issues which may impact parenting
    2. If the stepparent has children from a previous relationship, their ex-partner from that relationship becomes a collateral source for information about their parenting.

  4. Collateral Sources
    1. In a Child Custody Evaluation a broad set of relevant outside sources, rather than the limited set in a Full-Family Consultation, may be contacted for telephone interviewing. In a Full-Family Consultation the maximum number of sources allowed is one half the number of family members (parent figures + children) in the consultation, while in a Child Custody Evaluation that number is three times as many (1.5 times the number of family members). For example, an assessment of 5 family members (2 parents, 1 stepparent, and 2 children) could have up to 8 sources in an Evaluation, but only 3 in a Consultation
    2. Up to 150 pages of documents, rather than just 50 in the Full-Family Consultation, can be reviewed as a part of a Child Custody Evaluation. Typical documents to review are: Court orders, medical records, police reports, school reports, and emails or text message between parents.
II. Report and Recommendation Additions In A Child Custody Evaluation
     
  1. Psychological Report
    The report in a Child Custody Evaluation is much more in-depth than from a Full-Family Consultation. The Evaluation report is typically two to three times as long because it provides a detailed discussion of the psychological findings beyond the conclusions written in a Consultation report.

  2. Recommended Parenting Plan After a Child Custody Evaluation a full parenting plan ready for adoption by the Court and attachment to a court order is provided (usually 4-6 pages). This plan is very detailed with provisions for all major areas typically found in court-ordered parenting plans. After a Full-Family Consultation directives and guidelines for a future parenting plan are given, but not a fully detailed, written-out plan ready for attachment to a court order.
II. Fee Comparisons
  1. In both Full-Family Consultations and Child Custody Evaluations the standard fees follow a flat rate plan:

      Custody Eval Family Consult
    Each Parent $2200 $1000
    Each Stepparent Figure $1100 $600
    Infants/Preschoolers $1600 $800
    Children (5 to 11) $1900 $1000
    Pre-Teens/Adolescents $2200 $1200

  2. A Child Custody Evaluation can bring additional home observation fees if a parent lives in central New Mexico but outside Albuquerque (such as in Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, or Santa Fe). These fees cover added driving costs and time.

  3. Payment
    In either type of psychological assessment, 50% of each parent’s financial responsible portion is due at the first appointment and the remaining 50% is due at the conclusion of the data collection.

II. IV. After consultation of Evaluation Completion
If meetings, depositions, or a court appearance are needed, they are billed the same for either a Consultation or an Evaluation.

All information effective as of 15 March 2013.

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