Custody Neutral Assessment Program
The Custody Neutral Assessment Program was developed by the Ocean County Family Law Committee together with the Ocean County Bar Association and the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County. A custody neutral assessment is an assessment by a mental health professional which involves either an experienced psychologist or licensed social worker appointed by the court for the purposes of determining a resolution of custody and/or parenting time issues in an expedited manner.
The program was designed to assist the Family Court in resolving issues concerning custody and/or parenting time without the need for protracted or expensive litigation. The independent expert will prepare a report for the court offering a “snapshot” of the family issues and his or her recommendations for a resolution of the issues presented. The cost for the assessment is $650.00. Once the assessment is completed, a report is submitted to the court and counsel, if any. The process does not entail psychological testing of any kind and follow-up treatment. Furthermore, the report is not binding upon either party and either party may retain his/her own mental health professional to conduct a full custody evaluation. The process involves interviews with the litigants. The evaluator has the discretion of whether or not to interview the children unless the court directs otherwise.
A report is to be submitted within thirty (30) days after the completion of the evaluation. The court disseminates a report to counsel through a protective order. Subsequent to the report being rendered, either litigant will retain the option of securing his/her own expert as to the custody and parenting time issues in accordance with the New Jersey Court Rules.
Not Intended to be a Mini Custody Evaluation
It is important to note that the custody neutral assessment is not intended to be a mini custody evaluation. It is designed to provide the court with a first impression of what may be done to move the case along. An advantage of the custody neutral assessment option is cost savings. Ultimately, the custody neutral assessment can be completed within three to four hours as opposed to a custody evaluation taking many months to finalize. The authority of the court to develop and utilize the Custody Neutral Assessment Program evolves from the New Jersey Court Rules, particularly Rule 5:3-3.
Villani & DeLuca – NJ Custody Lawyers
The law office of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. is experienced in the Custody Neutral Assessment Program process. Villani & DeLuca, P.C.’s office is located in Ocean County and we have been involved in many cases that have successfully utilized the custody neutral assessment. Contact Villani & DeLuca at 732-965-3350 today.