What Types of Evaluations May Be Done in a Custody Case?
Depending on the unique circumstances in a custody case, the Court may order, or the parties may agree, that the parties should undergo various types of evaluations, including but not limited to custody evaluations, psychological evaluations, drug and alcohol evaluations, and risk of harm evaluations.
These evaluations are performed by a psychologist or another qualified mental health professional, who is either chosen by the Court or the parties. Sometimes, parties share the cost of evaluations. In other instances, one party may be responsible for the costs; for example, a party who is ordered to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation will typically need to pay for the evaluation in full.
Custody evaluations are extensive evaluations of both parties’ households, parenting, mental health, and other factors related to custody. Custody evaluations can be lengthy and costly, and while they can be a useful tool in some cases, they are not necessary or appropriate for every case.
Psychological evaluations are often ordered or requested when a party has a history of serious mental health conditions, or when a party’s behavior raises questions about their mental health as it impacts custody.
Drug and alcohol evaluations are often ordered when a party has a history of substance abuse or alcohol abuse. While drug and alcohol evaluations may also address other mental health conditions and factors as they are relevant, the focus is really what impact a party’s drug and alcohol abuse has on their custody arrangements and whether or not the party is at risk of relapsing if they are in recovery.
Risk of harm evaluations typically address parties’ criminal issues, and they may also address drug and alcohol or mental health issues. The purpose of a risk of harm evaluation is to determine whether (and to what extent) a party poses a risk of harm to the minor child(ren) involved in the custody proceedings, and if they do pose a risk, how that risk can best be mitigated.
If you are interested in discussing your custody matter in more detail with one of our attorneys, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation.