What sets Lindsay apart from other potential choices as a custody evaluator?
Lindsay has 13 years of diverse social work experience that assists her in her work as a custody evaluator. In keeping with best practices, she holds a master’s degree in Social Work from a reputable, Council on Social Work Education credentialed university, she has several years’ experience in working with complex family dynamics, over 65 hours of training in custody evaluations, as well as additional training in high-conflict child custody matters. She is credentialed at the highest level possible as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and regularly completes updated trainings from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts specifically about complex child custody matters, as well as trainings from the Mediation Center in Minneapolis, MN to keep her skills up to date. Lindsay became a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in 2017 and follows their best practices when completing home studies.
In 2020, Lindsay became credentialed as one of South Dakota’s only Child Inclusive Mediators, which is an evidence-based approach in interviewing children to assist parent’s in seeing things from the child’s perspective in order to determine their feelings, needs and experiences in challenging custody situations. As is also the best practice for this industry, her credentials and resume were reviewed by several Presiding Circuit Court Judges and she is credentialed through the South Dakota Unified Judicial System to act as a custody evaluator throughout the state of South Dakota. She’s been approved to act in this capacity since 2017 and is listed on the Unified Judicial System’s website of approved evaluators. Lindsay has also completed home studies where one party is located out of state, and she is willing to consider traveling out of state to complete studies, if needed.
What can I expect from the process of a custody evaluation?
The process of completing a home study can be stressful, but Lindsay strives to be as transparent as possible with clients to explain to them what the elements of the process are, what will be expected of them and how the process will proceed. Generally, either the attorneys or clients will speak with Lindsay during an initial consultation call about the possibility of completing a study. If agreed upon that Lindsay will be chosen to act as the evaluator, the court will then send her an order naming her as the evaluator and outlining her rights to act in this capacity. Lindsay will then begin the process of scheduling with both parents the interviews and home visit portion of the process.
The parties involved will be sent an intake packet of information, an agreement of the financial responsibility involved for paying for the study and written reference sheets that they will submit to people who can attest to their skills as a parent. Lindsay will then schedule a time for each parent to visit her office for an interview where she will learn about their background, their life today, any concerns they have for their children or about the other parent, and what they believe their strengths as a parent are. This is also where the parents will have the opportunity to present to her any relevant documents or evidence that they feel should be reviewed and factored into the case. After the initial interview, Lindsay will schedule and complete the home visit, which is usually on a weekend and can take roughly two to three hours to complete. The visit must include all children who are involved in the home study and Lindsay must be able to interact with the children during this visit.
After both parties have been interviewed and completed their home visit, Lindsay will begin compiling a report that describes their background information, information about their life today and comments on her conclusions after reviewing any relevant documentation about the case. Both parties will also be subject to a criminal background check, as well as a check of the sex offender registry, and abuse and neglect screenings. Lindsay may also recommend Psychological testing to be completed by both parties. At the conclusion of the report, a copy of the report with Lindsay’s formal findings and recommendations will be dropped in the mail on the same day to both attorneys as well as the judge presiding over the case.
What happens after the home study is completed?
Both parties will have the opportunity to review the report with their attorneys. There is a chance that Lindsay may be subpoenaed to attend court to testify about her work on the case, describe her findings and justify her final recommendation to the court. If Lindsay is subpoenaed to court, there may be additional charges involved for her time spent testifying and traveling outside of the Pierre or Rapid City areas to appear in court.