Child Custody and Forensic Evaluations

Dr. Lefkowits provides child custody evaluations for families involved in divorce litigation. A thorough, objective evaluation of the family is conducted in order to provide carefully considered information and recommendations to the court regarding physical and legal custody. Additional recommendations are often included which will assist the family subsequent to litigation.

An evaluation can benefit the court by assisting the judge in understanding complex questions such as parenting fitness, psychological attachment, sibling relationships and developmental needs of each child. The evaluator presents data to the court in order to determine the best interest of the children in order to establish a clear set of specific recommendations.

Typically a custody evaluation leads to the settlement of outstanding custody issues avoiding additional litigation. However, a minority of cases do not settle requiring a trial where the court makes a decision about custody.

Child Custody “Light” Evaluations

These evaluations are similar to a traditional custody evaluation however are significantly less expensive and require less time to complete. The conclusion of the evaluation is a settlement conference with both the parties and their counsel in order to reach agreement about physical and legal custody based on guidance from the evaluator. The “light” version is usually not admissible in court as it falls under a mediation statute. In addition, a formal report is not provided.

In some cases, with the agreement of the parties, it is possible for the evaluation to be admissible in court. However, this requires a shared understanding that the process does not represent best practices of a traditional custody evaluation. Yet due to financial and/or time constraints, the parties agree that more specific recommendations could be made available to the court in order to reach an agreement.

Forensic Psychological Evaluations

Either the court or the agreement of parties may determine an individual requires a full psychological assessment including psychological testing to determine current psychological and emotional functioning as well as diagnostic assessment. This type of evaluation may be used for the purpose of understanding parenting fitness, current mental health status, risk assessment and substance abuse issues.

Dr. Lefkowits provides a full report of his findings to the parties and if necessary can be deposed or appear in court to report his findings. These types of evaluations have been used for a broad range of purposes such as determining a parent’s current mental health status; assessing potential risk to minor children or a parent’s ability to care for children unsupervised; evaluate substance abuse disorders or determine competency.