Duke J. Bussey, PhD
Child Custody

Custody Evaluations

When parents get divorced, the court requires some kind of written plan describing custody and visitation for the children.  Sometimes parents are able to reach an agreement through the process of mediation, either at the court house or privately regarding this plan.  At other times, if that process is not successful, custody is determined by the court with the use of a child custody evaluator.  The court orders child custody evaluations in order to provide the judge with more comprehensive information about the child and the family in order to assist the court in making a decision regarding the best interest of the children.  Custody evaluations involve determining the needs of the children as well as the ability of the parents to meet those needs.  Individual family circumstances vary greatly, but the basis remains the best interest of the children.  The purpose of the evaluation rather is to solve a problem that the parents have not been able to resolve on their own.

Custody evaluations involve interviews with the parents and the children.  A range of in-depth information is gathered including school and health records as well as police information and other documents.  The evaluator will often speak with individual professionals involved in your children’s lives.  Psychological testing is often utilized in order to determine the emotional and mental status of each parent.  It is important that both parents participate.  The children are interviewed in the process of the evaluation at a level appropriate to their age.  The evaluator takes in to account the children’s sensitive feelings at this stressful time within their family.  Evaluators are very cautious not to place added pressure on the children by asking them where they want to live.  Older children’s preferences and feelings in that regard, however, are taken into account more centrally.  At the end of the evaluation, a report is prepared and sent to the judge as well as to the attorneys representing each of the parents.  It is hoped that the ultimate outcome of conducting the evaluation, making recommendations, and issuing a report is resolution of your custody plan.  Having a set plan where the children live in a clearly defined way can hopefully allow your family to go on and adjust better after the divorce.

Co-Parent Counseling & Education

These interventions are often needed following divorce in which parents have difficulty communicating regarding their children’s needs and in implementing their custody plan.  Dr. Bussey has much experience in assisting parents in developing better ways of resolving conflicts that involve their children during this period of time after parents have separated.

Child Custody

When utilizing the services of Dr. Bussey to conduct your child custody evaluation you can expect caring and professional treatment throughout your experience in his office.  The procedures used are in compliance with local California court rules 5.220 and APA and AFCC Guidelines.  More generally, you can expect to participate in a personal interview, psychological assessment, and your child or children will also participate in the same procedures depending on age and development.  You will be observed with your child either in the office or during a home visit.  Relevant third parties will be contacted via telephone or interviewed in person in order to obtain a broad factual picture of your current custody dilemma.  A report will be generated and distributed to each parents’ counsel of record and with a copy to the court.  Dr. Bussey may also be called upon to testify in your matter.  It is hoped that this procedure assists in resolving your custody dispute and allowing the entire family to move toward adjustment following divorce, given a residential structure of contact with both parents.  The process may somewhat stressful and difficult at times but its overall purpose is meant to be productive and forward looking.  Please contact out office for further details regarding your individual custody evaluation.

Website Builder