A high conflict case is characterized by abuse allegations, calls to police, restraining orders or civil restraints and repeated court appearances. The children get caught in the middle of their parents' divorce war. The expert's recommendations must include measures to protect the children from the damaging effects of this conflict.
Domestic Violence is the presence of physical or emotional abuse perpetrated on a domestic partner. Children who witness violence react as if they are the victims of the violence. The expert's recommendations must include measures to protect the children and give them meaningful contact with both parents.
Allegations of sexual abuse are very serious and require careful investigation by professionals and agencies experienced in evaluating these allegations. Protection of abused children and their healing becomes the primary concern when the abuse is confirmed. Confirmed and unfounded allegations of sexual abuse have serious divisive effects on the family and must be considered by the custody expert.
When one spouse files a claim against the other for damages due to physical and/or emotional abuse, the expert must evaluate the spouse and offer an opinion as to whether the claimant has been psychologically damaged. If confirmed, these damages (Marital Tort) can result in a financial settlement or award.
Allegations that one parent has alienated the child's feelings against the other parent can occur when a child refuses to spend time with a parent. An experienced expert can differentiate between Parental Alienation and a situation where the child's estrangement from a parent is due to other factors. It is important for the expert to know what remedies each problem requires.
Allegations that a parent is abusing alcohol are serious and should be fully investigated. A confirmed allegation can result in a referral to an outside specialist for a thorough and detailed evaluation. The results of this evaluation are incorporated into the custody expert's report. Active alcohol abuse would significantly impact the type of parenting plan that can be recommended. Appropriate recommendations to safeguard the children must be included.
Allegations that a parent is abusing substances such as illegal drugs and pain medications are serious and should be fully investigated. A confirmed allegation can result in a referral to an outside specialist for a detailed and thorough evaluation. The results of this evaluation are incorporated into the custody expert's report. Current substance abuse would significantly impact the type of parenting plan that can be recommended.
Children With Special Needs
An experienced evaluator is aware that children with special needs must be considered when making parenting recommendations. These needs may be due to medical factors such as diabetes, ADHD, neurological impairment; emotional factors such as OCD or depression; congenital factors such as Asperger's Syndrome, Williams Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Delays. These children's needs often require that parenting plans include special accommodations in order for them to have meaningful time with both of their parents.