Custody evaluations can be a high-risk practice. Very frequently someone will be dissatisfied, leading to possible disciplinary complaints. Practitioners, therefore, would be wise to take the following precautions when doing custody evaluations:
- Ensure that you are knowledgeable in the competencies needed to perform custody evaluations and be able to document these competencies; it would be useful to consult the Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations published by the Department in 1997.
- Keep complete records of the entire process.
- Secure a signed agreement in advance that clarifies and spells out the
arrangements for the evaluation, such as:
- Financial arrangements
- Who will be seen and number of contacts
- Overall limits of confidentiality
- Time frame for the evaluation, including the report
- Who will get copies of the reports, and who is entitled to the report
- The fact that the report is only a recommendation
- Limit the report to supportable data
- Substantiate the source of data for all comments that are made
- Inform the client of the specific limits to confidentiality when doing a custody evaluation.