I. Process of a Custody Evaluation
a. Personal and family history forms are provided and and are to be completed and submitted at least 48 business hours before the first appointment.
b. An individual interview (usually 2 hours long) is held to understand the history and nature of the current issues.
c. Testing is done with each parent or parent figure. Each adult must complete testing to screen for mental health and substance abuse isuues which may impact parenting.
d. A second interview is used to finish history gathering and discuss the parent's ideas about what future parenting plan will be in the child(ren)'s best interests.
e. Relevant collateral sources such as therapists or previous spouses, are contacted. Character witnesses, such as personal friends and extended family, are not interviewed.
f. In some cases during the later stages of the evaluation, both parents are interviewed together to assess their future ability to communicate and cooperate.
a. For each child the parents complete a history form and a behavioral rating scale.
b. Each local household is visited to initially meet the child(ren) and observe the family interacting. For families living outside central New Mexico, other arrangements for meeting the child(ren) and observing the family are made.
c. Each child attending elementary school and higher is seen in the office for age-appropriate interviewing, and observation.
d. Major adults who see the children daily, such as teachers and daycare providers, are asked to complete behavioral rating scales and sometimes for a telephone interview.
II. Reports and Recommendations
a. An Advisory Psychological Custody Evaluation report which gives a summary of the findings and conclusions about the family and the child(ren)'s needs
b. A Recommended Parenting Plan which outlines recommendations to the Court and parents regarding legal custody, timesharing and parental communications. Note that the parenting plan never addresses financial issues such as child or parental support.
a. Once the evaluation is completed, the attorneys and Dr Zieman meet Copies of the reports are given to each attorney. Usually the attorneys provide copies to the Court.
b. If parents wish to hear the results of the evaluation directly, a conference with both parents present is set up.
c. After the reports are given to the attorneys, clarification questions about the reports are answered, with the questions and answers shared with all parties.
III. Fees (all subject to NM Gross Receipts Tax)
a. Each Parent - $1,900
b. Each Stepparent/Stepparent Figure or Adult who is frequently in the home- $1000
c. Infants/Preschoolers (age 4 or less) - $1,400 first child in this age group, each additional $1,200
d. Children (age 5 to 11) - $1,800 first child in this age group, each additional $1600
e. Pre-teens/Adolescents (ages 12-17) $1,900 first child in this age group, each additional $1,700
a. Families living outside Albuquerque but in central New Mexico (for example: Los Lunas, Rio Rancho, Bernalillo and Santa Fe) to cover the added driving costs and time for home visits
b. Services (especially home visits) on Saturday, Sunday or after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays
c. When an interim parenting plan must be developed during the evaluation
d. Document pages to review are greater than 50 pages per parent
e. External sources for short telephone interviewing (15 mins. or less) number greater than 1.5 times the number of family members in the evaluation
f. Associated family members or external sources needing interviewing greater than 15 mins.
g. There is a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) appointed for the childreh
h. Appointments that are caneled or missed - see the Court-Related Services: New Cleint Information and Agreement form for fee policies on this.
Fifty percent of each parent's responsible portion is due at the first appointment. Prior to the report being completed, the remaining 50% is due. Reports and conclusions are withheld until full payment is made.
After the completion of the evaluation, if consultations, depositions, or a court appearance are needed, they are billed as follows with payment due 48 business hours in advance:
$210/hr., $120/half hr., $60/qtr. hr.
a. $600 for 2 hrs. or less, $1200 for half day ( 4 hrs. or less), $2,400 for a full day (greater than 4 hrs., additional fees if before 8:30 a.m. or after 5:00 p.m.); includes preparation, but not pre-testimony meetings with attorneys.
b. Travel time, mileage and parking fees for services outside Bernalillo County.
c. Court appearances/ depositions are paid for by the parent whose attorney requests them.
See the Court-Related Services, New Client Information, and Agreement Form for general office fee policies.
All information effective as of 1 September 2012.
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