Legal update: Child custody evaluation in Hong Kong – what you need to know04Aug2015
When tackling the challenge of divorce it is important to consider all aspects of the situation as early as possible. At Tanner De Witt we work with a range of trusted third parties in Hong Kong and caught up with Dr Kristie Craigen of The Jadis Blurton Family Development Centre to find out more about child custody evaluations and what is involved.
TDW: When is a child custody assessment necessary?
Dr Craigen: When the divorcing parties cannot agree on the terms of child custody, the court of Hong Kong will call for a report to include recommendations on custody. A full custody evaluation will allow the examiner to evaluate the children involved, assess the quality of the relationship between each parent and each child, and gather objective evidence concerning the status of each parent’s parenting skills and their general psychological health. More importantly, this evaluation process will accurately identify the parent’s capacity to satisfy the needs of the child within their ecological framework. This data-driven assessment process enables The Blurton Family Development Centre to produce a report with recommendations regarding custody and visitation that supports the child’s best interest. This report will also include recommendations that specifically address any parenting concerns that may have been raised by each parent.
TDW: How long will it take?
Dr Craigen: While our assessment battery includes a standard set of instruments, we also add components based on the needs of each family. In general, each family member undergoes 8-12 hours of testing.
Our report turnaround is always within two weeks from the date the last test/observation was completed.
TDW: What is involved?
Dr Craigen: In child custody evaluations, most psychometric measures tend to fall within the following categories: cognitive functioning tests, objective personality tests, projective personality tests, and parenting assessment tests. Because the evaluator needs to realize the full family dynamic, the typical custody evaluation consists of:
• Two or three interviews with each parent;
• Two or three interviews with each child;
• Observation of parental interaction with each child in the office and potentially at home;
• Psychological testing as necessary and as determined by the clinician;
• Review of important court papers; and
• Interviews with other observers such as teachers, pediatricians and day care providers as necessary.
TDW: What if my partner disagrees to this?
Dr Craigen: A fair custody evaluation will allow the examiner to talk to and evaluate the children involved, assess the quality of the relationship between each parent and each child and talk to collateral informants who often provide information essential to the case. If your partner decides not to participate and you decide to undergo testing, it’s important to remember that the report produced will only be partly representative of your true family situation and may not be completely compatible with your child’s best interests.
TDW: What are the next steps?
Dr Craigen: Once the evaluation process is complete, the evaluator will issue a report with recommendations regarding custody and visitation.
Interview with Dr Kristie Craigen of The Blurton Family Development Centre
If you are going through a divorce and have concerns or questions over the custody situation of your child or children, please contact us. You may find more information about our family and divorce services here. Alternatively you may visit The Blurton Family Development Centre website.
Disclaimer: This publication is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.