Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings
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The laws in US pertaining to custody or visitation of child depends on each State's prevailing laws. Almost half of the divorces in US involves dependent children. In a divorce, issues related to the dependent children are decided by the court at its own discretion in 'the best interest of the child'. In some cases, many courts consider child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings before issuing any ruling of the case, when the parents fail to reach an agreement. The evaluation is conducted by an experienced mental health expert, usually a psychologist to assess the health, welfare and safety condition of the child. The evaluation helps the parents work out a plan together on behalf of the child.
Custody of a child refers to the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent towards the child after divorce. Legal custody basically takes care of the major decisions taken in favor of the child's welfare and well-being; while physical custody refers to the right of the parents to have the child live with either of them. While giving a ruling on the child custody matter, the court needs to be very cautious. In the process, an evaluation process helps them to take right decisions with the help of the psychologists. A court decides examines the reports of the psychologist and then decides what is best for the child. There are least chances of allowing a custody to a parent, when there have been incidents of negligence and abuse or incapability of parenting.
Factors considered while evaluating the custody of a child in a divorce proceedings
Objectives of Child Custody evaluations in Divorce proceedings
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- Income details - how capable each of the parents is of meeting the child's needs
- Any history of neglect or physical violence which the child may have suffered or is at risk of sufferingThe laws in US pertaining to custody or visitation of child depends on each State's prevailing laws. Almost half of the divorces in US involves dependent children. In a divorce, issues related to the dependent children are decided by the court at its own discretion in 'the best interest of the child'. In some cases, many courts consider child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings before issuing any ruling
- Parent's availability to provide care for the children
- Location or proximity of parent's accommodation
- Each parent's wishes to take care of the children
- The child's wishes (depending on his age and understanding)
- The physical, emotional and educational needs of the child
- Children's relationship with the parent and other members of the family
Role of a psychologist in Child Custody evaluations
- The main aim is to estimate the best psychological interests of the child
- The well being and interest of the child is of maximum importance
- The developmental and psychological requirements of the child are matched with the parenting capacity and the resultant fit is found out
Execution of a Child Custody evaluations in divorce proceedings
- The psychologist is a professional expert who works hard to consistently have an impartial and objective outlook
- The psychologist has knowledge of societal and personal favoritism and despite being aware of these conducts a non-discriminatory practice
- The psychologist has to prevent the formation of multiple relations
- The psychologist has to inform the adult participants of this evaluation, take their consent and if rightful, inform the child participants. All the participants are made aware of the following -
- The method, nature and purpose of the evaluation
- Who has requested the services of the psychologist?
- Who is responsible for payment of the fees?
- The psychologist conveys the limits of confidentiality The laws in US pertaining to custody or visitation of child depends on each State's prevailing laws. Almost half of the divorces in US involves dependent children. In a divorce, issues related to the dependent children are decided by the court at its own discretion in 'the best interest of the child'. In some cases, many courts consider child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings before issuing any rulingand the procedure of disclosing information to all the participants. It is made clear that the participants, inclusive of children, are dealing with a professional relation with the psychologist
- The psychologist makes use of multiple methods to collect information. Some examples are observation, clinical interviews and psychological estimations
- This psychologist has to take care that he/she is not wrongly interpreting or over interpreting assessment or clinical information. Any conclusion that is not sufficiently endorsed by data is not drawn. If the methods or data used has any limitations, the psychologist divulges this to the court
- After the psychologist has personally evaluated an individual, this psychologist does not opine about the psychological functioning of this person. However, the psychologist may deal with hypothetical questions or theoretical issues and may report what an individual has said in the evaluation
- The psychologist offers some recommendations keeping in mind what are the best interests of the child
- The financial arrangements must be made clear by the psychologist. While billing for this procedure is done, the psychologist must not misrepresent the service for purposes of reimbursement
- This psychologist has to maintain written records. The APA Record Keeping Guidelines and relevant statutory guidelines are to be adhered to while maintaining and filing records obtained in the evaluation
Divorce is a difficult incident in the life of a couple, and especially for the children of the couple. Parents must take decisions that meet the best interest of the child. Children benefits when they have the company of both the parents after a divorce. During a child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings, the possibility of giving custody preference is being assessed. This can help the parents work out plan together on behalf of the child. With several tests and questioning in the process, suggestions are made by the psychologist as to what course of actions can be taken for the child.