When separated parents cannot agree on the residential arrangement for their children between them or how conflicting decisions should be settled, many turn to the Court seeking an Order determining the residential arrangement and who would have decision making authority for what.
To guide the Court, many of these same parents would participate in a custody and access assessment. Therein a clinical investigator (typically a psychologist) would interview the parents, speak with and observe the children with the parents, obtain additional information from other sources and then write an extensive report concluding with recommendations on the matters of custody and access. Whereas some parents would settle their dispute on the basis of the recommendations, for others, the report and recommendations only serve to fuel their dispute in litigation.
A Clinical Evaluative Consultation (CEC) takes the process of a custody and access assessment, but keeps it out of a Court with the aim of facilitating settlement. Rather than concluding with a written report available for litigation, the CEC concludes with a verbal disclosure meeting and settlement meeting combined. It is attended by both parents and their lawyers. The entire process is closed, meaning nothing can be used for Court purposes. There will be no written report and the clinical investigator cannot be called to Court to testify in the event this matter proceeds to a trial.
The benefit of the closed process is that parents as well as the clinical investigator can speak very freely about the matters at hand without concern that it may be used against anyone at Court. The process allows the parents to obtain important and impartial information about themselves, their children and their situation so they the parents can retain control of the outcome – their settlement. The process provides the parents important insights as to how this matter would be viewed in a traditional custody/access assessment and likely outcomes if the matter were to proceed to Court.