The evaluation procedure involves a series of personal interviews with each party, along with individual interviews of each child, probably 4 in all, with the children having been brought twice by each parent. In these situations, the children are usually interviewed individually, and time is taken, near the end of the process, to see the children together with each parent. To augment my observations made in interviews, to each parent there will be administered a battery of psychological tests. Relevant testing will be done with the children, age permitting, during their individual sessions. Additionally, relevant collateral parties will be contacted, and relevant documents will be reviewed. If the circumstances permit, I will visit each party, with the children, at their home.
The evaluation should be done as a result of a court order or, lacking such an order, by an agreement reached between the parties, usually through their attorneys. The agreement should be as clear as possible regarding the nature of the questions to be answered, not only including such issues as requesting recommendations regarding custody and visitation, but also speaking to specific issues as questions of parental fitness, of suspected abusive behavior, of suspected alcohol or drug abuse, or questions related to a particular child's emotional functioning, attachment, etc. The agreement should also include information on how the costs of the evaluation are to be shared.
The retainer expected would be 1/2 to 2/3 the expected total cost. The remaining payments would be expected prior to the presenting of any findings or recommendations to either party or either attorney.
Ex parte communications between me and the attorneys are discouraged, and, if possible, when communication is necessary between the attorneys and the evaluator, an effort should be made to make those conversations joint.
At the end of the evaluation, the findings are generally shared, jointly and in person, when possible, with the attorneys (not with the parties) with the aim of moving toward a settlement. Following that conference I will meet with the parties, either jointly or individually, depending on what the situation calls for, in order to move the process ahead or clarify my findings.
As a Parenting Coordinator (PC) my role involves helping parents in conflict find ways of settling problems, small and large, without resorting to court intervention. As a PC I will always endeavor to take a transparent and neutral role and will, depending on the agreement reached by all parties or the order of the court, help couples mediate areas of difference over a wide range of parenting issues, including communication, the maintenance of boundaries, the creation of workable schedules, transition issues, etc. I try to always remain child welfare oriented, seeking to help move the parties toward decisions that will benefit their child or children. In all cases, this role involves elements of parent education, and, when such is agreed upon, authority can be vested in me to make decisions in a timely way. Such decisions would not include such things as primary custody arrangements or major financial settlements, and all decisions would be subject to judicial review. It is often necessary to maintain contact with other relevant parties such as therapists of the parties or the children, and at times it is helpful to have direct contact with the children or other relevant parties (ie, teachers, doctors, etc).
I also have considerable experience in doing evaluations for other court related situations. For example, assessments can be done of an individual's emotional or intellectual competence. Assessments can also be done of an individual's propensity to behave inappropriately (i.e., physically or sexually abusive), of a party's ability to parent effectively, or of an individual's ability, perhaps in personal injury cases, for example, to deal with the stresses and demands of the workplace.
Additionally, I am available for consultation to attorneys and others on topics within my areas of expertise, and I have provided expert testimony on a variety of issues on many occasions and in a variety of jurisdictions.