Parent Time Evaluations

Parenting Time Evaluations (PTE's) are extensive forensic evaluations that are ordered by the court either during the initial divorce proceedings, or when one or both parents seek to change the type or frequency of custody with their child/children. The purpose of these evaluations is to assist the court in determining the best interests of the child/children.

In our office, Dr. Todd Bennett, Dr. Joe Lipetzky, and Kathy Edwards, JD, LCPC, are experienced parenting time evaluators. Each of them are considered experts in this field. In addition to conducting parenting time evaluations, both doctors have testified as expert witnesses in court on issues related to parental fitness and child custody / parenting time matters. Dr. Bennett has served as an expert and pro-reviewer for the Idaho Board of Psychologist Examiners regarding complaints against Idaho psychologists related to child custody issues.

Kathy Edwards is a licensed clinical professional counselor who is working on her Doctorate degree in psychology. She is also a family law attorney. Ms. Edwards conducts Brief Focused Assessments as well as Parenting Time Evaluations.

Before you contact our office regarding a Parenting Time Evaluation or Brief Focused Assessment, be sure that a judge has ordered one of our providers to perform the evaluation, as they only conduct such evaluations under court order.

A complete evaluation includes:

  • Several individual interviews with both biological parents or legal guardians.
  • Individual interviews with those in step-parenting roles.
  • Individual interviews with children (based on their developmental abilities).
  • Parenting Questionnaires.
  • Psychological testing of all adult participants. Testing of children will be conducted if determined to be necessary.
  • Home visits and family observation at each parent's physical residence.
  • Review of relevant documentation pertaining to your case.
  • Possible interviews or phone interviews with other individuals (collateral contacts).

Your evaluator will prepare a thorough and comprehensive report outlining specific recommendations that can be incorporated into a parenting plan. Parents and their attorneys must remember that, as an expert of the court, your evaluator will understand and consider the concerns of the parents, but will make recommendations based on their perceptions of the child/children's best interests. Each evaluator adheres to the standards for child custody/parenting time evaluations developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the American Psychological Association.

If you have been ordered to follow up with one of our parenting time evaluators, you can follow the steps below to help the overall process run as smooth as possible.  

Call our office at (208) 373-0790 and ask to speak with Shannon Russell regarding setting up your first appointment. Shannon is the Cornerstone office manager and the personal assistant to our evaluators. Typically, the order for such an evaluation stipulates that each party make contact with our office within 5 business days from when the order was signed.

Download, print, and complete the following parenting time evaluation paperwork to bring with you to your first appointment.

Print the Informed Consent for Participant form, complete it and bring with you to your first appointment.

If you have a partner living with you, or if you are engaged to be married, print out the following form and have that person complete it prior to their meeting with the Evaluator.

Fill out one Child History Questionnaire for each of your minor children who are the focus of the current court's action in your case.

Please fill out the Participant Information form with your and your significant other's contact information.

If you, your stepparent figure, or your child/children have been seen by a mental health provider within the past 5 years, fill out and sign an Authorization to Release of Confidential Information form for each counselor or mental health provider.   Bring these signed releases and Summary Form with you to your first visit and our office will request those records directly from those counselors. If you and your spouse/ex-spouse met with a counselor for family or couples counseling, each of you must provide a signed release to our office. The psychological records we receive may be referenced in the final report, but the records themselves are not released to any other individual or agency to protect the confidential relationships between counselors and clients.

Fill out the Release of Information Summary Form with contact info for each provider you have an Authorization for.

Fill out the Disclosure of Other Parent's Mental Health History.

If you wish for your evaluator to speak with other individuals, such as your children's teachers or witnesses of certain events, please fill out the Collateral Contact List and Authorization to Release Information form.

For each potential collateral the evaluator might contact, you will need to provide the Informed Consent for Collateral Contacts to that contact for their consent to participate.

The following list might be helpful for you to consider as you attend your first interview with your custody evaluator:

Download the cover letter and checklist for information about your first appointment.

  • Arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment time to ensure that your paperwork is in order. (If any of your paperwork is incomplete give yourself more time)
  • Bring your retainer (If you were ordered by the court to pay part or all of the cost of the evaluation). Ms. Russell will inform you about how much your specific retainer is prior to your first appointment. The final cost of your evaluation is determined by the number of individuals involved and other factors, such as travel distance and amount of documentation provided. Your evaluator can speak with you in more detail on this subject.
  • Relax! Parenting Time evaluations can be a high anxiety-producing event. Keep in mind that your evaluator is simply asking standardized questions to try and best uncover and understand the facts of a complex and highly emotional situation. The best thing you can do is be honest (even about the negative stuff) and understand that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. By the time most people are finished with their interviews, they report that it wasn't as stressful as they anticipated.
  • It's okay to bring notes. It is normal to sometimes be unsure of dates, times, and specific details of events. Also, some people find it more effective to organize their points of concern as to not feel like they are "all over the place" during their interviews.
  • Pace yourself. You will have several opportunities to talk with the evaluator, so you don't have to speak on every subject in the first meeting. You will have an opportunity to add information (even if in written format) up until the final report is started.