Bilateral Parenting Assessments
Parenting time/parenting evaluations formerly called (bilateral custody and access assessments) are comprehensive and focus on family relationships, parental capacities and the needs of children. These assessments are concerned with assessing the needs of the children and each parent’s ability to meet those needs. They are attentive to past events, present resources and future needs of the family. These evaluations are concerned with the strengths and weaknesses of both parents and are directed toward helping the family make a positive adjustment to divorce.
These reports and recommendations are often used to assist the judge in understanding a child’s “best psychological interest” and in making important decisions regarding issues such as parenting time, parental responsibility, primary residency and access.
A Parenting Time/Parenting Responsibilities Assessment includes:
- As much background as necessary to appreciate how things have gotten to where they are.
- A review of ones’ life in a more general and historical sense with attention to what is professionally referred to as “psycho-social and adaptive function”.
- Requests for you to fill out questionnaires to help me understand your perspectives.
- Psychometric testing in order to appreciate the character or personality of the children and adults involved.
- Speaking individually and /or with your current partners about not only the difficulties that exist but, Time spent with children in order to appreciate their point of view, feelings, hopes, fears, etc.
- Time spent with each parent in the company of the child or children. This may occur in my office or your home depending on the circumstance and my professional judgment.
- Discussion or consultation with other professionals and/or friends (collaterals) who may provide useful information.
A ‘Mobility Assessment’ is a comprehensive assessment of the family. Psychologists’ who act as mobility assessors, seek varied information to assist the parents and the courts in their decision making, particularly regarding the child’s best psychological interest pertaining to a potential relocation.
A “Sexual Risk Assessment” is a comprehensive forensic assessment of an individual who may or may not have been charged with a sexual offense. Sexual risk assessments involve clinical interviews, collateral contacts, and psychometric testing. They typically result in the generation of a written report that is provided to the referring party i.e. Children’s Services or the Court.
Unilateral Parenting Assessments
A ‘Unilateral Parenting Assessment’ is an evaluation of one parent that culminates in a written report about the strengths and weaknesses of that individuals parenting. The Parenting Expert makes recommendations with respect to what supports and/or resources may be helpful. The Parenting Expert cannot make recommendations to the Court regarding parenting time and parenting responsibilities, or relocation of the children with this type of assessment.
Voice of the Child Assessments
‘Voice of the Child Assessments’ canvass the specific needs and/or wishes of the children, if appropriate. They typically involve interviews with both parents, as well as individual interviews with the children. These evaluations are often ordered by the Court or by agreement between the parents and their lawyers. The purpose of the assessment is to identify the specific needs of the children, as well as the presence of risk factors.
The term ‘parenting capacity’ refers to an individual’s ability to parent in a ‘good enough’ manner, long term. It is different from ‘parenting ability” where an individual may be able to parent for a short period of time in specific circumstances but not have the capacity to parent effectively long term. Parenting capacity varies at different points in time, depending on the circumstances facing parents and their children. In other words, these assessments examine if a parent can provide the minimum amount of care needed so as not to cause harm to a child. The assessor will examine the strengths of a parent as well as the weaknesses and will consider ways in which parenting capacity can be enhanced. Often parenting capacity assessments are directed via Children’s Services. A judge may also order a parenting capacity assessment or a parent may choose to voluntarily undertake one.