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Parenting Plan Assessments at the Los Angeles Superior Court

Posted By Edwin Castellanos || 29-Jun-2013

If you are involved in a Los Angeles child custody dispute, then you should learn more about what is a parenting plan assessment at the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Stanley Mosk Courthouse (Central District) provided by Family Court Services (FCS).

Some of the following information concerning Parenting Plan Assessments is excerpted from Family Law Supervising Judge Scott M. Gordon’s Judicial Message to Los Angeles Family Law Attorneys, which may help provide you with additional insight into PPA’s in Los Angeles County.

Family Law Supervising Judge, Scott M. Gordon:

This article will be a little different than the past few offerings. Unfortunately, much of what there has been to talk about has dealt with the negative effects of the budget crisis. Those pressures and challenges still exist and are very real. However, there are several things that have occurred that will provide enhanced service to you and our litigants. These new programs are also show the incredible resiliency and dedication of the Family Law Division Staff and the staff of Family Court Services led by Susan Thrall.

As you know, the reduction of staff that we have experienced over the past several years has forced the termination of Full Child Custody Evaluations by Family Court Services. This has placed much greater pressure on the Solution Focused Evaluation (SFE) process (formerly known as “Fast Track” evaluations). It has also funneled cases into the SFE process that present issues too complex for the traditional SFE process.

In an effort to provide greater service, Family Court Services (FCS) is offering enhanced evaluation services in the form of Parenting Plan Assessments (PPA). FCS now performs two types of assessments, the PPA I and PPA II.

The PPA I

The Parenting Plan Assessment I is very similar to the former Solution Focused Evaluations (was also known as a “Fast Track Evaluation”). The intent is to get the PPA I done in 1 day, and should not be conducted at the time of or during trial.

The PPA II

The PPA II is a 2-day process used for cases with “compelling” issues. The 2-day process gives the parties an additional opportunity to present information and allows the evaluator a greater opportunity to determine the issues and work with the parties. Recommendations will be given and the process completed on 2nd day of assessment at 1:30 p.m., which is when the evaluator testifies in court.

The PPA II should not be confused with a full child custody evaluation, and is only used in cases involving more than 2 of the following issues:

  • Move away
  • History of serious mental illness
  • Child or parent with physical/ developmental disability
  • High conflict cases
  • Three or more children over the age of 5
  • History of child abduction
  • Sexual molestation (Consider a FC §3118 evaluation)
  • Repeated allegations of child abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Chronic substance abuse

The PPA II Process:

Day 1:

  • Review Legal File
  • Interview Parent 1
  • Interview Parent 2
  • Interview children
  • Observe/ Interview Parent 1 and children
  • Observe/ Interview Parent 2 and children
  • Make collateral calls

Day 2:

  • Consult with necessary professionals
  • Make additional collateral calls
  • Prepare testimony
  • Type recommendations for distribution

11:00 a.m. Conference with attorneys and/or parents

1:30 p.m. Testify.

The fees for these evaluations are: PPA I – $975 and the PPA II – $1950.

It is hoped that these new assessments will provide greater flexibility and resources to litigants going through the challenging process of child custody litigation.

Source: Family Law E-News: Judicial Message, Family Law Supervising Judge, Scott M. Gordon, Articles, Announcements, Pending Legislation, Cases, Volume 4, Number 3, July 2013