From her private psychology practice in Irvine, California, Dr. Miriam Galindo works with families involved in high-conflict divorces. Dr. Miriam Galindo also serves as a child custody evaluator, having participated in some 300 court cases.
Custody evaluation is the process of determining the needs of children and how the parents can best help meet them. While it concentrates on the children’s situation, custody evaluation also attempts to consider the needs of the family as a whole. It is not intended to decide who is at fault or to choose sides.
The evaluation begins with interviews of both parents, separately and together. The individual interviews will help the evaluator look at each person’s concerns about the children and the other parent. The joint interviews allow the evaluator to see how the parents work together. A session with the entire family can yield more relevant information.
The evaluator may ask permission to access records from schools, doctors, social services, and law enforcement. These will provide an outside perspective of the family environment. As a means of obtaining more information, a judge may also require psychological tests of each parent. A psychologist will then interview both parents and may administer several tests.
Many parents wonder if the evaluator will ask the children who they would like to live with. Although counseling does involve questions about thoughts and feelings, evaluators do not ask children to make that choice.
After these steps have been taken, the custody evaluator will present his or her findings to the judge. In most areas, this information is confidential.