Child Custody Evaluations
Child custody evaluations are generally, requested by the courts or the attorneys in order to address specific questions related to how the divorce might impact one or both parent's capacity to parent their child or their parenting plan.
Child custody can be physical or legal, and it may either be solely awarded to one parent or jointly shared between parents. Physical custody is who the child lives with and requires a time schedule for parenting time. While one parent may be the residential parent, both parents have parenting time with the child. Legal custody describes who has the right to make important decisions for the child in the three domains of education, religion, and health, such as which school the child attends, what kind of medical professional or treatment the child chooses, and decisions in the area of religion.
Although divorce can be acrimonious, children are some of the most contentious and emotional ones that can arise during a divorce; and, the ways in which parents seek to resolve them can affect the well-being of their family often for years to come.
A solid and comprehensive custody arrangement will minimize the stress on both the child and the parents and preserve economic and emotional resources of the family. A messy divorce can affect the likelihood of a child developing insecure relationships with peers, parents and later in life, with significant others. As parents you can make valuable decisions during the divorce process that can enable positive future adjustment and well-being of your children.
We can assist in conducting a comprehensive psychological assessment using valid, objective and norm-referenced measures. A solid psychological assessment does not only focus on a couple of tests or on a parent’s weaknesses alone but also on a parent’s competencies and strengths to effectively determine sources and effective solutions to the problems faced by family members.
At Care Family Consultation, we are sensitive to the tremendous economic and emotional strain that divorce proceedings can extoll on your family and make testing an efficient process for you. Many psychological assessments can also fail to factor the the role of diversity, bi-racial factors, and possibly, sexual and gender minority factors in contributing to the strength of family functioning.
The best child custody option of course, is for both partners negotiate custody arrangements without court intervention and without high attorney fees. Sometimes, when couples are unable to arrive at coparenting agreements, the court may order a child custody evaluation.
Court Ordered Child Custody Evaluation
A court may order psychological testing of a parent to determine custody in the following scenarios:
Child abuse. If the court has reason to believe the parent is abusing the child, the court may order psychological testing.
History of mental health issues in one parent: parental mental health issues may impact the parent’s ability to provide for the well-being of the child, and the court may order psychological testing to determine the suitability of the parent to take custody of the child.
Parental bond: The bond between the child and his or her parents and siblings.
The nature of the coparental relationship: the primary task of coparenting is to cooperate with the other parent on how to raise the child no matter how one parent may feel about the other parent.
Drug and alcohol abuse: If a parent has a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, the court may order psychological testing, and also may consider the parent unfit to take custody. Often drug and alcohol abuse can be symptoms or causes of mental health issues.
Professionals Appointed by the Court Perform Testing
The professional conducting psychological testing is a licensed professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or therapist. Generally, the court will appoint the professional, but the court will also take suggestions from both parents, or their attorneys. If both parents or their attorneys can agree on a professional, the court may choose that professional.
Court Appointed Investigator or Guardian Ad Litum
A custody evaluator is usually a psychologist, with special training and experience in reviewing family situations, family dynamics, and making recommendations to judges about what custody arrangements and parenting plan or schedule would be in the best interests of the children involved.
Courts can appoint investigators to also perform home visits and/or interview the parent and the minors in the home. The investigator can also interview the other parent, relatives, daycare workers, school teachers, colleagues of either parent, and others who may be able to provide information pertinent to the psychological well-being of the parent.
If a court has ordered that you undergo psychological testing before being awarded custody of your child, or if you want your child’s other parent to undergo psychological testing, then it is important to consult with a child custody attorney. Attorneys can guide you through the process and make sure that your rights as a parent are not jeopardized. If you are seeking custody of your child, it is important to have skilled legal representation.
Illinois Child Support Guidelines
According to Section 505 of Illinois Compiled Statute (ILCS) 750, "...the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for his [or her] support, without regard to marital misconduct." Fault in the marriage has no bearing on the support amount. The court uses the following guidelines when determining the minimum amount of support required of a supporting parent. On this website: www.childsupportillinois.com, you can calculate child support: http://bit.ly/1JwLcBt
You can obtain additional information from the following Child Support offices in Illinois:
1755 Lake Cook Road, 4th Floor East, Deerfield, IL 60015
6221 South Emerald Drive, Chicago, IL 60621
36 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603