Child Custody Fitness Assessment

Child Custody Fitness Assessment

Child Custody Fitness Assessments are done with the explicit intent to either prove or disprove a parent or guardians’ ability/qualifications to be a parent to a child. A Child Custody Fitness Assessment is a specialized psychological evaluation, typically ordered by a court, and used to assess the capacity of a parent to parent their children. Often, this evaluation is ordered by a court as part of a termination of parental rights case or in the course of determining a parent’s ability to assume custody of their children in a custody dispute. Parents involved in DCFS cases are often required to obtain a parental fitness evaluation.

A Child Custody Fitness Assessment will normally be ordered by a court for a number of different reasons. The following are some examples of why a Child Custody Fitness Assessment might be asked for:
When determining which parent may gain custody of a child, it is always in the best interest of the child that the court places its merits and emphasis. The mental and physical states of each parent, substance abuse issues in either parent, and finally the domicile/home environment of
Child Custody and Parental Fitness Assessment
each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child which is in stark contrast to simply the material aspects of the environment.

In order for the court to make such a determination a Child Custody Fitness Assessment is normally what is called for. In most cases the court is capable of ordering both parents to undergo such an evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. The mental health of either parent is held in extremely high regard when it comes to a situation that will be capable of nurturing and fostering adequate and substantial ability to care for the child in question. In the United States most courts find it paramount that they have a constitutional right and duty to protect a person and their property. This constitutional right of protection extends equally to children as well as to adults’ and provides further basis for the discretionary power of the trial court to compel either or both parents, where the issue of custody is contested, to submit to psychological or psychiatric examination and evaluation when deemed necessary to a determination concerning the best interest of the child.

It should be noted that when determining child custody there are many factors that play a part in the decision of the psychologist or psychiatrist. Not only is the parent to undergo the evaluation, but members of the family and acquaintances can also be asked to provide more proof that would determine the appropriateness of the child staying with either parent. At AACS Counseling it is standard procedure to procure notarized statements from multiple individuals to better determine the child custody placements.
Another important factor when it comes to Child Custody Fitness Assessments is that many times that are done to see what sort of recommendation might be given to either parent involved. These recommendations can become requirements if the court deems them essential so that a parent can gain access back their child. An example of such an assessment and recommendation could be like the following scenario:
“Jenny and Mark had been married for almost 7 years. They had two daughters during this time one of which was 5 years old and the other had just had her second birthday. Things had been rocky in there relationship for a while now, but a particular incident that left the couple looking at a divorce.
Mark’s relationship with alcohol had not always been the best and during a particularly bad night of drinking he had an outburst and was filmed yelling at his children after one of them had knocked over and shattered a vase. Jenny’s lawyer presented this video as evidence that Mark should not be allowed to have custody of his children due to the nature of his alcoholism. The Judge determined that a Child Custody Fitness Assessment would be appropriate and both Jenny and Mark underwent the evaluations.

The evaluators recommended that Mark complete an ASAM Level I Treatment program for a period of 17 sessions in order to get his drinking issues under control. Upon completing this recommendation, the judge decided on 50/50 custody to both parents as the evaluators found that this was an extremely isolated incident and found no evidence of any other substance abuse or mental health issues that would not allow Mark to be a father to either of his children.”

What the above scenario should point out to you is that evaluators will always base their recommendations on the welfare and safety of the children. This can lead to a variety of different recommendations that are all based on helping either or both parents have access to their children in a safe and comfortable environment.

Service Area