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Brief Focused Assessment
Custody Evaluation (730)
Collaborative Law: Child Specialist
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Limits of Confidentiality
255 W. Central, Suite 201, Brea, CA 92821

BRIEF FOCUSED ASSESSMENT

(CONFIDENTIAL - for settlement purposes only)

The intent of this assessment is to provide the parties and their attorneys with information in a specified, focused area that may be helpful to the parties' ability to be self- determining and reach settlement as related to the best interests of their child(ren). The Brief Focused Assessment (BFA) is appropriate for obtaining answers to many of the same questions addressed in a custody evaluation, yet is used when a comprehensive evaluation is not warranted, yet specific information is needed to provide answers in a focused area of concern. Parties have the opportunity to learn a different perspective from the report and to voluntarily follow the resulting recommendations, verses being court ordered to do so.

The parties agree that I will not be subpoenaed to testify as a witness in this case, nor will any portion of the report or the file be admissible as evidence in court or in any other adversarial process in the future. If the parties later choose to litigate the issue addressed by this assessment and want to include an assessment and related findings in their litigation, the assessment process would have to begin again with a different mental health professional. This model of the Brief Focused Assessment is a private, confidential process.

Limits of Confidentiality

Any information offered or gained access to in the process of this assessment may be included in the report. No confidentiality exists between parents, as your children are the focus of the assessment. Confidentiality must be breached according to the law if there is a reasonable basis for me to suspect child, dependent or elder abuse or neglect, in which case a report would be filed with the appropriate social service agency: child or elder protective services, and/or the police. If I have reasonable basis to believe that a client is gravely disabled and unable to provide for his/her own basic needs, then I may breach confidentiality to engage those who could provide assistance and safety. If a client reports directly to me a physical threat to the person or property of an identifiable person I am required by law to notify the police and the intended victim, and may contact others whom may be helpful in securing the intended victim's safety. I may also breach confidentiality by contacting and engaging the efforts of those individuals who might help to secure the safety of an individual who is a threat to him/herself.

Time Frame

The time frame in which this process is completed is generally two to four weeks depending upon the wishes of the parties and their availability. Although the process may be completed within one week, coordination of schedules between the parties, their attorneys and the mental health professional can be challenging.

Task Time Estimates:

Review of Questionnaires and any documentation

Initial Interviews with each party

Telephone Interviews with Collateral Contacts

Follow-up Interviews with each party

Organization of Findings/Preparation for Verbal Report

Verbal Report with the Parties and their Attorneys
1.5 hour

4 hours

1.5 hours

2 hours

2 hours

1 hour



(A home visit will be provided if relevant to the issue being assessed.)

Interviews may or may not include your children depending upon the focus of the assessment. Inclusion of children needs to be left up to the discretion of the mental health professional. Every effort is made to shield children from the stress of experiencing loyalty conflicts during this assessment process.

The single psychological testing instrument that may be utilized (with parents only) to assist in this assessment is the MCMI-III (Milton Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III). The results are integrated as one piece of clinical information to assist the therapist's understanding of the parents functioning, and in the formulation of this assessment. The information provided by the results of this tool is considered with caution in that it is not being used as part of a comprehensive evaluation, which would utilize additional testing instruments. The test results themselves are not provided, but are retained as part of the treatment record.

The test is administered during the intake session and takes approximately 30 minutes.

Communication with Attorneys

Following agreement of the parties and their attorneys that I will be conducting this Brief Focused Assessment, and the arrangement of fees having been agreed upon (procedural issues which may be discussed with attorneys separately), I will discuss in conference call with the parties' attorneys (and I suggest the parties be present with their attorneys during this call) the scope of the assessment, the approximate start date and date of the report. Joint conference call with attorneys will be required for discussion of any substantive issue; however, there is generally no need for communication with the attorneys outside of the initial conference call and final verbal report.

Verbal Report

The resulting report and recommendations will be provided verbally to the parties' attorneys in conference call or in person with the parties present. No written report will be provided.

BFA findings flow from the data, which in this model is by definition limited and, therefore, cannot be generalized to broader issues such that would affect the percentage of parenting time, or such issues as move-aways. These broader issues are more appropriately addressed by a full custody evaluation and will not be addressed by this Brief Focused Assessment model. Additionally, due to the brevity of the BFA, the report is more descriptive than interpretive. If during this assessment I identify areas of concern outside of the issue of focus, I will relate these at this time and make suggestions for further clinical intervention.

Scheduling Appointments

Upon receipt of full payment I will contact the parties directly to schedule the initial interviews. It is more practical for scheduling to occur directly than via the parties' attorneys.

Materials to Bring to the Initial Interview

Download the Brief Focused Assessment Questionnaire and the Collateral Contact List forms (Please note that you will have to register and sign in to the CLIENTS' ONLY section to access the questionnaire). Complete these two forms and make a set of copies (so that you have a copy to keep) prior to your initial scheduled interview and bring them to your initial interview along with up to three additional items that you believe could help support the assessment process. If the parties and their attorneys agree that they want copies of the other parties' materials, the parities are then responsible to provide a copy to the other party. The parties may then provide copies to their own attorneys.

Flat Fee

The flat fee for the Brief Focused Assessment is $2,200. to $2,400. (with psychological testing), which covers approximately 12 to 14 hours of service, psychological testing, and the initial contacts with the parties' attorneys. The full flat fee payment of $ 2,400. is due in the form of a cashier's check or money order before initial interviews are scheduled. Though consultation is frequently obtained with outside experts, this is done at the expense of the therapist conducting the assessment, and the confidentiality of the client is always preserved with no identifying information disclosed.

Please download the following for more details:

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