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What is a custody/access assessment/parenting assessment?

A custody/access assessment is a detailed investigation of a family’s situation by an educated and trained professional such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. The assessor will collect information relevant to the children’s relationship with their parents and then recommend a parenting plan that suits the best interests of the children. The assessor conducting the assessment will meet with the parents and the children, and sometimes with other people who are involved in the children’s life. The assessor will then write a report for the judge which contains recommendations on custody and access (now called a parenting plan). In most cases, the parents are responsible for the cost of the assessment. In some cases, the judge may ask the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, a government agency, to conduct an investigation and report back to the judge with recommendations. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer may assign a social worker to conduct the investigation or assign a lawyer to meet with the children so that their wishes can be communicated to the judge.