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Parental Responsibility Evaluation (PRE)

It's not uncommon for parents to disagree on the parenting time for their child. But if you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent through mediation or other settlement efforts including a CFI, your court might order that you participate in a parental responsibilities evaluation (PRE). A mental health expert, usually a psychologist, will go through a formal process of interviewing both parents and children as well as performing any necessary testing on anyone involved with the evaluation. 

A PRE is a licensed psychologist or other mental health provider who is trained to investigate into parent-child dynamics and will perform additional tests such as psychological testing, in-depth interviews, parent child observations, and a home visit. A PRE will provide a detailed report to the court with recommendations regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities.

The Evaluation Process

While not all evaluators utilize the same process, there are certain things that you should expect in all evaluations. These include:

  • At least two, individual interviews with each parent.

  • At least one individual interview with each child.

  • Observations of your child(ren) with each parent.

  • Review of court documents and other appropriate written information.

  • Contact with some collateral sources (e.g. therapists, teachers, day-care personnel, pediatricians)

  • A written report with specific recommendations about parenting time, and which addresses all of the major concerns raised by you and your ex-partner.

An evaluation of your parenting and home environment may also include psychological testing or questionnaires that help provide additional information about your emotional functioning or parenting style. These additional techniques are commonly used by psychologists, especially when conducting a more thorough evaluation. The evaluator might also include a home visit at each parent's home if he feels this would be useful, which may be especially helpful for very young children especially those under age 6.


Best interests of the child:

In Colorado, the child's best interests are the primary consideration in all child custody cases, including the allocation of parental responsibilities. The Child's Best Interest Standard is outlined in the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S. 14-10-124).

Under this standard, the court considers the following factors when determining the child's best interests:

  1. The wishes of the child's parents and the child, if they are of sufficient maturity and understanding

  2. The child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and any other significant person in the child's life

  3. The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community

  4. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved

  5. The ability of each parent to encourage the child's relationship with the other parent

  6. The ability of each parent to provide for the child's needs, including emotional, physical, and developmental needs

  7. The ability of each parent to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly regarding the child's welfare

  8. Any evidence of abuse, including domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect

  9. The ability of each parent to place the child's needs ahead of their own interests

  10. Any other relevant factors that may impact the child's best interests.

The court may also consider the child's wishes in determining their best interests, particularly if the child is of sufficient maturity and understanding to express their preferences. However, the child's wishes are not determinative and must be considered in light of all the other relevant factors.

It is important to note that the child's best interests standard is not a rigid formula and must be applied on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the specific circumstances of each case. The court's ultimate goal is to ensure that the child's welfare and safety are protected, and that they have a stable and nurturing home environment that promotes their healthy development.

What Can You Expect from the Recommendations?

Evaluation reports also include recommendations to help parents and children move forward in a healthy and productive way. Typically, recommendations will fall in several categories, including but not limited to: parenting time/visitation/decision making recommendations; a parenting plan that outlines the time-share between the parents and how parents might deal with future conflict-resolution; therapy recommendations for either the parents and/or the children; when special problems exist, such as domestic violence, substance abuse problems, alienating behaviors, and others, there will likely be special recommendations focusing on those special issues. In some of those cases, there might be a recommendation for an updated evaluation after treatment or some other period. While it may be tempting to focus only on obtaining favorable recommendations from an evaluator, other issues might require attention as well. A full evaluation can help identify problem areas in parenting skills and provide appropriate treatment options for the entire family unit.

Ultimately, a parental responsibility evaluation can be a great opportunity to see how co-parents can work together on behalf of their children. Rather than the win-lose approach to your separation, a parental responsibilities evaluation should guide you toward a healthier resolution, rather than an adversarial battle where one party wins and the other loses.

Contact me today for a free consultation. 

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