September 1, 2016

Child Custody Investigations

Best Interest of the Child

Research has shown that children do best in their psychological, social and emotional development when they are able to have a relationship with both of their parents – father and mother. Unfortunately, not all parents or guardians understand the developmental and emotional importance of both parents being a part of a child’s life, which often leads to custody and visitation disputes.

Of course, there may be other possible issues, factors, suspicions or allegations that may prevent or raise concern about a parent having a relationship with their child, such as abusive conduct, domestic violence, criminal behavior, mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, which ultimately creates a greater need for professional insight, observation, review, and recommendations on how best to decide the emotional and developmental well being of a child trapped in such unfortunate and painful circumstances.

High conflict divorce, domestic violence, drug addiction and alcoholism, or other issues that may result in child custody disputes are very emotional, complex, and expensive; they should not be done without an attorney, and they should not be done without an expert to help determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Since its founding, Solomon Family Solutions has recognized a huge need for this service, as many licensed mental health professionals, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists tasked with providing similar services lack fundamental skills and training in forensics and the law.  Conversely, guardian ad litems (GALs), lawyers appointed to represent the best interests of the child(ren) lack much needed training and experience in social sciences and social services.  Unfortunately, this ultimately may result in parenting plans that are not truly in the child’s best interest.  The ideal professional to ensure the proper handling of child custody cases is someone that has both legal and psychological training and experience.

Per the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Ann. Code § 36-1-101(d)
In all cases, when the best interests of the child and those of the adults are in conflict, such conflict shall always be resolved to favor the rights and the best interests of the child, which interests are hereby recognized as constitutionally protected, and, to that end, this part shall be liberally construed.

Tennessee Ann. Code § 36-1-113(i)
In determining whether termination of parental or guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child pursuant to this part, the court shall consider, but is not limited to, the following:
• Whether the parent or guardian has made such adjustment of circumstance, conduct, or conditions as to make it safe and in
the child’s best interests to be in the home of the parent or guardian
• Whether the parent or guardian has failed to effect a lasting adjustment after reasonable efforts by available social services
agencies for such duration of time that lasting adjustment does not reasonably appear possible
• Whether the parent or guardian has maintained regular visitation or other contact with the child
• Whether a meaningful relationship has otherwise been established between the parent or guardian and the child
• The effect a change of caregivers and physical environment is likely to have on the child’s emotional, psychological, and
medical condition
• Whether the parent or guardian, or other person residing with the parent or guardian, has shown brutality; physical, sexual,
emotional, or psychological abuse; or neglect toward the child or another child or adult in the family or household
• Whether the physical environment of the parent’s or guardian’s home is healthy and safe, whether there is criminal activity in
the home, or whether there is such use of alcohol or controlled substances as may render the parent or guardian consistently
unable to care for the child in a safe and stable manner
• Whether the parent’s or guardian’s mental and/or emotional status would be detrimental to the child or prevent the parent or
guardian from effectively providing safe and stable care and supervision for the child
• Whether the parent or guardian has paid child support consistent with the child support guidelines

With dual degrees in law and psychology, over 30,000 hours of experience working with children and families, published writings to include the topic of best interests of the child standards, plus hours of expert witness testimony,   Andrea Chase, M.S., J.D., will be the forensic child and family welfare expert that provides the court with the necessary insight, facts, and recommendations that will result in a custody and visitation plan that will truly be in the best interest of the child.

Available Services

Case File Review

Structured and Unstructured Observations

Forensic Interviews

Professional Report Writing

Insightful Recommendations that value and respect parental rights, as well as that of a child.

Persuasive Expert Testimony

Daubert Standard

Traditionally, child custody evaluations are conducted by Licensed Clinical Psychologists (PhD in Clinical Psychology plus a license to diagnose and treat psychological disorders as described in the DSM) that have minimal understanding of the law (i.e., best interests standards and fundamental parental rights) and effective forensic investigation and analysis skills.  In  reality, not all child custody matters necessitate a clinical psychologist’s skill and expertise in psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.  Some cases simply require an investigation to reveal the veracity of accusations and allegations, as well as parental fitness to care for a particular child.

Using qualitative research methods as used in child placement practices, Solomon Family Solutions investigations and techniques are the same as those utilized to assess the fitness of a parent and home environment prior to the placement of a child. And, should additional information be required, such as a mental health evaluation and/or a psychological diagnosis, then Solomon Family Solutions will outsource to a qualified mental health professional (outsourced services will be at an additional cost).

There are no national standards or set practices for child custody evaluations, and the regulations of child custody evaluations are specific to each state.  In those instances where psychological or mental health diagnosis is at issue, then a licensed mental health provider would be needed; however, when the question involves the overall fitness of a parent and/or home then professionals that provide child placement and child abuse prevention services, such as Solomon Family Solutions have the needed expertise to evaluate parents, child, and home.

“In Daubert, the court stated,’if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.’” (Harvard Law Review, n.d).

“In Kumho Tire, the Court extended the Daubert analysis beyond scientific evidence to the ‘technical’ and ‘other specialized’ knowledge also referenced in Rule 702 (Harvard Law Review, n.d.).” “The Court supported this conclusion by noting the lack of distinctions made in the statutory language, the equal grant of latitude in testimony to nonscientific experts, and the difficulty of distinguishing between ‘scientific’ and ‘technical’ or ‘other specialized’ knowledge” (Harvard Law Review, n.d.).  “The Court specified that trial courts may consider the four factors suggested by Daubert in these nonscientific contexts” (Harvard Law Review, n.d.). “The most recent development in federal admissibility analysis occurred in 2000, when Rule 702 gained three reliability requirements:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier
of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness
qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the
product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied
the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case” (Harvard Law Review, n.d.).

Andrea Chase, M.S., J.D., Ph.D. Student has qualified as an expert in child welfare, child placement, child custody, and child abuse throughout TN 10th Judicial District and Hamilton County – Chancery Court.

Affordable Service

Child custody evaluation services can cost a family thousands of dollars, which typically prevents families from being able to hire a professional to investigate what is truly in the best interests of the child.

Solomon Family Solutions is committed to making services affordable for all families, therefore Solomon Family Solutions’ child custody investigation and evaluation services are billed on an hourly rate of only $50 per hour (a minimum 5 hour retainer is required to initiate services). Flexible payment options are also available upon request and approval.

Please see Consulting & Expert Witness Services for additional information

Free 30 Minute Consultation 

Contact Solomon Family Solutions via phone or email to set up a complimentary 30 minute consultation to learn more about what our services can do to help your family. Solomon Family Solutions 423-790-3747 Ext. 1 or info@solomonfamilysolutions.com


 A LICENSED TN CHILD PLACEMENT AGENCY & A LICENSED TN CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION AGENCY