Anatomy of a Parental Responsibility Evaluation
In particularly contentious child custody battles, the court or either party may request a parental responsibility evaluation (PRE). This method allows an evaluator to research the case, obtaining valid consultations and interviews. The role of the PRE is to investigate and make recommendations to the court. However, the PRE does not make the final judgement in the child custody case. Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-127, the law states,
In all proceedings concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities with respect to a child, the court may, upon motion of either party or upon its own motion, order any county or district social services department or a licensed mental health professional qualified pursuant to subsection (4) of this section to perform an evaluation and file a written report concerning the disputed issues relating to the allocation of parental responsibilities for the child, unless such motion by either party is made for the purpose of delaying the proceedings.
The Parental Responsibility Evaluation Process
The court can appoint or the parents can hire a licensed mental health professional to investigate their case. It can cost individuals anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for an evaluator. Usually the two parties will have to split the cost.
On average, a PRE takes 90 days to complete. This may change based on different cases. Common steps in a PRE include:
- The evaluator will talk to each parent individually to explain the process. Each parent will receive questionnaires that they and the child’s contact must fill out.
- The evaluator will observe each parent with their child to discern parent-child dynamics.
- By law, evaluators can interview anyone with information regarding the child. This includes doctors, teachers, caretakers, etc.
- If the child is old enough, the evaluator will interview children individually.
- After conducting their investigation, evaluators will create a report with their findings including description of the process, relevant data, and recommendation.
- Evaluators must submit their reports to the court 20 days before the hearing.
The parental responsibility evaluations help the court determine who would be better suited to care for the child. Having a third party examine the situation can prove beneficial in determining custody.
Some factors evaluators make recommendations on are:
- Parenting rights, visitation, and custody
- If the family or certain individuals need therapy
- How parents should potentially handle conflicts in the future
- How families can deal with specific issues such as drug abuse
Supplemental Parental Responsibility Evaluation
If a party is dissatisfied with the initial results of the evaluation, they can ask the court to appoint another qualified individual to re-evaluate the case. The parent requesting the supplemental evaluation must pay the costs.
The court will refuse a re-evaluation if they believe:
- The parent is trying to delay the case
- The objecting party or child has a mental or physical condition that would make a supplemental PRE harmful
- The PRE is being used to harass the other party
- The party requesting the supplemental PRE did not cooperate during the initial evaluation
- A second evaluation will not aid the court in determining custody
At The Harris Law Firm, our goal is to minimize conflict and protect your children. If you and your ex are involved in a high-conflict battle for rights to your kids, contact our Colorado child custody lawyers. We will help you along every step of the divorce process. Our attorneys prioritize our clients’ needs. Call today for a consultation.