Child Custody Evaluations

Background

Dr. David Lombard has been completing child custody evaluations for over 20 years. He knows that having to complete a child custody evaluation can feel like an overwhelming task, causing a lot of anxiety. In our office, Dr. Lombard understands how stressful this can be so he does his best to complete these assessments with as much compassion and sensitivity as possible.

When working with our office to complete your child custody evaluation, Dr. Lombard will be the only psychologist involved in your evaluation. Dr. Lombard has been licensed in this state since 1999. Being licensed requires passing a national written examination and a written examination given by the Indiana State Psychology Examining Board. You may contact them with questions or concerns at 55 Monument Circle Suite 455, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204.

On this page will try to cover issues which come up frequently in parenting/child custody evaluations.  Please take the time to read through this website and then feel free to ask call and questions of Dr. Lombard.

 

Purpose, Process, and Limitations of the Evaluation

It is important that you understand in advance that this is an evaluation for legal purposes and that the best interests of your children will be Dr. Lombard’s only concern. There is a possibility that his impressions may be unfavorable to your legal position. Dr. Lombard will be making recommendations with regard to your contact and involvement with the children. This may include recommendations about the delegation of legal decision-making for them. It is a very difficult and, at times, painful task to make recommendations concerning parent-child relationships. 

The evaluation itself will consist of interviews and psychological testing with each parent. Children may be interviewed and tested separately and/or observed in a brief session with each parent, depending on the children's ages. The psychological testing allows Dr. Lombard to collect a wide range of data and organize the issues while minimizing cost to you. At the end of the evaluation, a report and recommendation will be provided to both attorneys. If one or both parents are pro se, copies of the report will be sent directly to the pro se parent. However, Dr. Lombard recommends all parents in child custody evaluations be represented by an attorney.

Dr. Lombard recognizes that his impressions are very important to you. However, please do not ask him to give you an opinion until he had had an opportunity to hear all sides, review the psychological test results, and fully review the file. At that time, feedback will be given to the attorneys either orally or in written form.

Once the evaluation has begun Dr. Lombard cannot be a resource to you or anyone else involved in the case for advice, therapy, or support. These activities conflict with Dr. Lombard’s role as a non-partisan evaluator. However, Dr. Lombard strongly advises parents to seek therapy elsewhere if they would find it beneficial. Some people refrain from doing this for fear it will reflect badly on them during the evaluation process. Dr. Lombard does not feel that this reflects badly on anyone, especially given the stresses of divorce and custody situations. Dr. Lombard encourages you to take care of yourself in this regard.

 

Confidentiality Issues

As Dr. Lombard begins the evaluation, both parents will be asked to sign "Release of Information" forms. This allows Dr. Lombard to discuss this situation with anyone who he thinks would be helpful in coming to a recommendation. This also allows Dr. Lombard to talk to your attorney and submit reports to the court. The laws of confidentiality might otherwise prevent him from doing so.

While parents will not have confidentiality with regard to what is said in the interviews, this may not be so for your children. In an attempt to buffer them from the pain of this custody action, Dr. Lombard may promise them that what they talk with him about is confidential. Dr. Lombard will use his judgment regarding this on a case-by-case or issue-by-issue basis with each child. Again, it is important to understand in advance that the children are Dr. Lombard’s primary concern and their interests are first.

 

The Evaluation Process

The following describes the steps and the purposes of the procedures that are involved in this evaluation process. The description is being given so that you know what to expect as you decide to have an evaluation done and as you prepare for and go through this evaluation. This evaluation will follow a structured pattern to maximize the fairness and the objectivity of the report, and to work toward the best interests of your child or children. However, Dr. Lombard may make changes in the process in a case-by-case basis due to the needs of each case. Please understand that this will be a stressful process and Dr. Lombard will stress you and may use deception as he determines needed.

 

  1. The first step of this process is for each side to agree to have the evaluation. There must be a stipulated agreement or a court order.

  2. Payment for this evaluation must be made in advance.

  3. Once the fee is paid, then initial appointments will be made with both parents.

  4. The parents will bring to their initial clinical interview appointments their completed Parenting History survey and Child History surveys. Failure to do so will result in the appointment being cancelled and fees being charged.

  5. The first clinical interview/testing day will require up to an 8-hour block of time. Each party will be scheduled for a separate day.

  6. At the first appointment, you should bring any written documents that you might think would be relevant to the concern that you are raising. Please highlight the segments of the documents that you think are noteworthy. Do not include documents from people who have not observed firsthand parenting behavior or alarming behavior that might affect parenting. Dr. Lombard strongly encourages you consult with your attorney prior to giving him any documents, recordings, etc.

  7. In the first part of the clinical interview you and Dr. Lombard will go over a consent form, ask and answer any questions, and sign that document. Dr. Lombard will then review your completed background surveys with you and conduct a clinical interview of you.

  8. After your clinical interview you will complete the MMPI-2 and several other psychological tests in my office. These psychological tests are the most researched and standardized tests in use today.

  9. Following your structured interview and testing, releases of information will be signed so that the relevant records may be obtained and so that third-party individuals can be contacted who may be able to help with the evaluation. It is most likely that only collaterals that can provide firsthand information about the allegations or about parenting strengths or weaknesses will be contacted. However, all collaterals must submit a detailed written statement or documentation regarding their direct observations. The statement (letter) needs to be dated, signed, and include contact information. Often the statement is enough and direct contact with the collateral will not occur.   
             
  10. If you request that non-professional collaterals be contacted, then that individual must submit a written declaration that is specific about relevant evidence from firsthand witness of parenting behavior or behavior that could affect parenting.

  11. You will also need to bring your child(ren) in for a 2-hour Parent-Child Observation with any significant others you live with or are engaged to.

  12. Each party will be asked to produce records that become apparent during the first interview. These records might include police incident reports, criminal history reports, juvenile court records, mental health records, medical records, school attendance and grade reports, achievement and standardized testing records, social services agency records, and psychological and educational testing reports. Once a parent has offered permission to access records, that parent is to ask the agency to mail the records directly to the evaluator. Each parent is asked to have all of the records sent to Dr. Lombard within 2 weeks. 

  13. If a parent has a new life partner who is involved with the children, then that new partner will be required to have a brief interview and complete testing. An additional parent-child observation may be requested.

  14. Two appointments will be set for the child(ren) to have clinical interview and testing. Each parent will bring the child(ren) to one of the two appointments unless there are extenuating circumstances.

  15. All of the collateral documents received will be reviewed by Dr. Lombard.

  16. A follow-up interview will occur with each parent. The first part of the appointment is to clarify any details that are missing or that are inconsistent with the findings of the evaluation. The second part allows the party to offer any new or final information they perceive to be important.

  17. A report will be written and then issued directly to the attorneys and parents.

  18. If the evaluator is to serve as an expert witness during discovery or trial because the settlement process has failed, then an additional retainer will be required by the requesting party.

  19. Changes may occur in the process, order of appointments and testing, due to the situation in each case. Dr. Lombard still attempts to complete all the objectives of the child custody evaluation.

 

Evaluation Costs

The cost fee for this evaluation is $10,000. This fee covers all of the 19 elements reviewed above. The $10,000 fee must be taken care of by the appropriate parent or parents before the evaluation begins (paid in percentages by each party as stipulated by court order). There will be additional charges for any missed or canceled appointment where 72-hour notice is not given ($400 per hour cancelled). 

Court time and depositions cost are additional and will be billed at $400 an hour and four hours must be paid for in advance to reserve time. If a court appearance or deposition runs more than four hours, you will be billed for the balance.

 

Questions? Are You Ready to Schedule Your Child Custody Evaluation?

To schedule your evaluation or speak to Dr. Lombard, please call our office at (260) 459-2900 or email us at david@davidlombard.com.  When you call our office, we will need to know what attorney you are working with, what court your case is in, and the timeframe that your evaluation needs to be completed within. Dr. Lombard looks forward to working with you and your family.

To Schedule Your Assessment

 

 


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