Notes from custody evaluationAug 23, 2003 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Finally there is written documentation to support what I have been saying. Supervised visits should take place with special needs children and a non-custodial father that has a mental illness.
As I mentioned in another essay I received the 25 page report from the Custody Evaluator. This has her recommendations, observations, conversations with both parents and outside data and reports from agencies.
This same report goes to the Judge along with the records from DMV and the Department of Justice.
The recommendations are the last two pages, stating the following:
I retain sole legal and physical custody. Monitored visits for 1.5 hours at a safe kids location with someone who knows about special needs, if that cannot be found then the one hour continues at my house.
He is to enroll in counselling for 16 or more sessions with a psychotherapist who has expertise in Autism, to facilitate positive and appropriate interaction between father and children. Mother will cooperate in bringing the children to the sessions as recommended by the therapist. The parents will arrange a mutually convenient appt time with the therapist.
Father will continue treatment with his psychiatrist through his health plan and comply with recommendations.
Neither parent will be under the influence at any time that the minor children are under their care. Neither parent will use any form of corporal punishment with the children.
father will have access to older son by telephone on Fridays of every week between 4 and 4:30 pm. Father will have the option of spending two hours with the children every Fathers Day, under the supervision of a monitor, either in an agency setting or in mother's residence.
Two key points made:
Mother expresses a concern about father's beard, with respect to son's expressed dislike for the beard and irritation by the tactile stimulation. Father appears to either disregard the impact of the beard on oldest son or not take it seriously. Father says that his beard is his business. Whereas the undersigned does not believe it is appropriate to require father to shave his beard, it is strongly recommended that father consider doing so, in the interest of a more positive relationship with oldest son. If he chooses to shave his beard, and it has no positive effect for son, father can allow the beard to grow back. This seems to the undersigned to be a clear and simple choice. Father's ability to comprehend this issue is likely a factor of his psychiatric illness.
Father states that mother is an untreated alcoholic. There is no collateral information to support this allegation. On the contrary, the superior care, environment, and advocacy that mother is providing for the two children would not likely occur so consistently were mother impeded by substance abuse.
Some bizarre quotes from the father during his interviews with the evaluator:
Father reports having a Ph.D. in Theology. When asked which university he obtained the Ph.D. from, he described it as a "course study on behalf of West Hollywood and Los Angeles." Father states that he is now cured of Paranoid Schizophrenia. Father states that he seeks counseling from time to time but could not give a counselor's name.
Father responds that the children are more than ready and more than able to go out with their father. Father states that he took autism classes at an agency on Olympic Boulevard but does not remember the name of the agency.
Father was asked if there were any characteristics of the two children that might require care different from most other children their ages. Father said there are "certain inflections basically with how they deal with the environment, certain sensitivities. If there's something bothering them, they'll let me know." Father said, "youngest son is quiet, puts his foot down, sort of like the man in the family."
Father believes that older son is a little apprehensive with the monitor because she is African-American. Father says that he would prefer Caucasian or Hispanic. Father says, "I haven't been fulfilled as a father."
Father describes mother as a great mother who has "towed the line". He says that "her IQ is super high" but "she is a woman who requires the Court to tell her this is the father and he wants to take them out." Father says that he has shown mother "the top of the tree and the bottom of the tree" and that he needed to "dog bite" her. He states that seventy percent of families with special need children do not have a father around. He wants to pick up kids, go get ice cream and go to the park.
Father describes mother as "back biting" and says that she concerns the community with private things they have gone through. Father states that mother goes against the court orders and does not "loosen up".
Observations by the Evaluator:
Father states that his visitation time is too short. Perhaps he can first seek to arrive on time for every scheduled visitation, and focus on learning skills to improve his interaction with the children, before seeking substantially increased visitation time.
Father was unable to describe, even in a general sense, the intricate and detailed care which the children, particularly the youngest son, require. He has unrealistic expectations regarding the children's ability to function in unstructured environments, and his ability to provide for their needs. Information from the professional monitor and observations of the evaluator indicate that father is unable to independently engage the children in a consistent, meaningful, and appropriate manner.
There is evidence that father is lacking in personal boundaries and the ability to tune in to the children's needs and feelings. Father also appears to have an unrealistic perception of his own circumstances, and the likelihood of establishing a stable home and work life for himself in the forseeable future. Father has difficulty giving a thorough and accurate history, but it does appear he is being followed by a Psychiatrist.
Father's visits could continue as they currently are, which provides safety and some degree of comfort to the children in their familiar environment, but that frequently ends up frustrating for father, children and mother. It would be more beneficial for everyone if father could interact with the children in the presence of a facilitator whose role it would be to intervene, in an ongoing manner, to demonstrate to father appropriate and productive behavior with the children. The facilitator would need to have expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The facilitator could actively work with father and the children to enhance their interaction and foster a more positive and rewarding experience for all of them.
It does appear, however, that mother becomes quite tense during father's visitations. It is believed that this is not intended to disrupt father's visits, but an honest reaction to what she perceives as difficult for the children, and in anticipation of having to restructure the routine afterwards. While mother's perspective is very understandable, it is also believed that this does cause stress for both father and mother, and thereby the children as well. It is therefore recommended that the monitored visits take place in an agency setting rather than the mother's residence, if an appropriate setting can be identified. It is hoped that the children will be able to adjust to an agency setting, with appropriate support from mother and father.
Lastly, some of the observations from the visits at my home by the Evaluator:
Mother and two children live in a two bedroom house. The home is very neat, clean, and organized. It is clearly child focused with concern for the individual needs of the two children. There are structured activities throughout the home, and attention to safety is evident. Mother gave a detailed report of a typical day's schedule which is appropriately structured to meet the many specialized individual needs of both children.
Mother's interaction with the two children was natural and spontaneous, relaxed, loving and nurturing, while providing appropriate structure. She was patient, attentive, and tuned in to the children's needs and communication. Mother appears to enjoy being with the children, and they with her. Mother's home environment seems nurturing and appropriately stimulating, without being over-stimulating.
The visit that the evaluator observed was described to me by the monitor as chaotic. Luckily for me my therapist had an appointment a half hour later so I could talk through my anxiety over that visit.
Basically my older son asked his father repeatedly to not touch him or kiss him due to the beard. Father promised and when both monitor and evaluator were not looking he gave him a kiss. My son was very agitated over this and told his father he was a liar and to leave him alone. The father said to child, monitor and evaluator that the child was crying because the father had not been around for eight years. They had to remove father from the room and explain the real reason why my son was crying.
The DMV report indicated father has had three moving violations and convictions since January of 2002 and that he did not divulge his entire criminal background, as stated by the evaluator in the report as these were not included in my copy.
The evaluator also summarized several letters I provided from the Pediatrician, teacher, therapists and medical student as well as the written report from the monitor. I had to pay the monitor $55.00 to receive that report.
The only thing I changed in this essay was the mention of my children's names. I switched that to son or older son, although the father did refer to them by name. On the court documents the father has submitted in the past he has written the wrong name down for my youngest son.
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