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Custody Evaluations and Plans - page header image

Custody
Evaluations
and Plans

Child Custody Evaluations & Plans

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How are Child Custody Evaluations
and Consultations Helpful?

The process of divorce and separation can be stressful, complicated, time-consuming, and overwhelming. So it's important when establishing custody schedules and determining appropriate visitation that you have the help of an experienced specialist who understands your child's needs. WFP offers professional custody consultations and comprehensive evaluation services that give your child a voice in the separation process.

Parents can informally use our custody services to aid in their amicable decisions regarding custody and visitation or in court proceedings. Parents may also use our services as a complement to their collaborative divorce model. WFP’s custody services can help parents develop a shared parenting plan and identify a plan that meets the best interests of their child and the unique needs of the family.

What is Involved in a Child Custody Evaluation?

WFP’s standard custody evaluation includes parent interview, child interviews, parent-child observation in office, psychological testing for parents, collateral interviews,and document review. However, WFP offers a variety of custody evaluation packages that can be tailored for your family’s needs.

Why Choose WFP for Your Custody Evaluation or Parenting Plan?

WFP’s evaluators are passionate about this work and find nothing more rewarding than bringing peace and resolution to a stressful, difficult custody/divorce situation. WFP’s evaluators frequently attend continuing education conferences on custody and divorce so that we are up to speed on the most cutting-edge approaches to tackling relevant topics.

As a child and adolescent practice, WFP’s evaluators are uniquely trained to answer many of the questions parents may have, such as:

  • When and how many overnights are appropriate for my child?
    Does my child’s age impact the number of overnights?
  • How will a long commute or out-of-state visitation affect my child?
  • How should significant others or stepparents be introduced and what role should that person have in my child’s life?
  • How can conflict between my child’s other parent and me be reduced and how can we improve our communication?
  • What are some ways to reduce stress on a child having difficulty making transitions back and forth?

What is the Difference Between a Therapist and a Child Custody Evaluator?

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The role of the evaluator in a child custody dispute is different from the role of a therapist in a traditional, clinical setting. It is important to keep these roles separate.

The forensic evaluation provides objective information and informed opinions to help the court, parent, and their attorneys make a custody decision. In a custody evaluation, a type of forensic evaluation, the evaluator asks a lot of tough questions that may sometimes feel uncomfortable. Additionally, the forensic evaluator’s role is more investigatory because it is important that the evaluator consider all relevant information to make informed opinions. Therefore, the forensic evaluator will cross check information the parties provide. The forensic evaluator will provide a completed custody evaluation report, which objectively assesses the strengths and weaknesses of both parents and provides thorough recommendations to help your family determine an appropriate visitation and custody parenting plan.

Therapy is typically associated with relieving distress and improving the quality of life. The goal of therapy is to provide treatment in circumstances where a person’s daily functioning is impacted. A therapist strives to provide a safe, confidential, and supportive environment where the therapist works together with an individual person or family to set goals that will improve your life or the lives of people in your family. To put it more simply, in therapy, you feel “warm and fuzzy” because the therapist is there to help you and your children feel better. The role of the therapist is less of an investigator of truthfulness but more to assist the individual with improving their lives.

Because the goals of therapy and a custody evaluation are different, the clinician cannot be both your therapist and your custody evaluator. Ethical and professional guidelines allow clinicians to have only one kind of professional relationship with an individual and/or family and to be clear with the family on which service or role the clinician is providing.

How Long Does Therapy Last Versus a Child Custody Evaluation?

How long does therapy last versus a custody evaluation? Depending on the reason for therapy, therapy may last months (20 weekly sessions) or years.On the other hand, a custody evaluation has a distinct beginning and end, and can range from a few weeks (for a brief consultation) to six months (for a more comprehensive evaluation).

Is the Custody Evaluation Process Confidential?

Confidentiality is another example of how therapy and forensic evaluations, such as a custody evaluation, differ. While all therapy services are confidential, custody consultations and custody evaluations have limited confidentiality when they are court ordered, or parents wish the report to be released to attorneys. Also, if the parties have requested a comprehensive custody evaluation involving both parents, there is NO confidentiality between parents. The role of a forensic evaluator is to ask hard questions and to check facts. That means that the custody evaluator needs to question both you and your ex-partner about issues you’ve raised during the evaluation.

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My Former Partner and I are Good Collaborators. Are You Able to Give Us a Professional Opinion on What Visitation / Custody Arrangement is Best for Our Children?

One of the benefits of WFP’s services is that WFP can customize them to meet the needs of your family. WFP’s custody services range from informal (geared towards collaborative and cooperative parents) to formal and extensive. For couples who are looking to avoid a lengthy and expensive process, the WFP professional can focus on the most important issue(s) and provide feedback about the relevant issues affecting your child, make recommendations for a parenting plan or visitation schedule, or answer specific questions (e.g., “What is appropriate for my child to call the new step-mother?”). However, if needed, the WF professional can also provide a more extensive evaluation and a thorough report with recommendations in a very timely manner (a few weeks to a few months).

How We Can Help with Child Custody Evaluations and Plans

Parents may not always know what level or type of custody/divorce services are needed. A helpful first step is to schedule the intake with one of our evaluators to discuss the needs of your particular situation. We can then advise as to whether therapy, a custody consultation, or a more formal custody evaluation would be recommended.

Get In Touch - Information & Scheduling

Call 919-467-7777 or email Info@WynnsFamilyPsychology.com to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our therapy services, testing services, social skills groups, custody services, and team of psychologists and therapists. You can also complete our new client inquiry form to get started.

Most new clients are scheduled for their first full appointment at the Cary, Raleigh, or Greensboro, NC office locations within one to two weeks of calling. We also offer telehealth for those who prefer to have virtual sessions from home, school, or the office.

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