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Understanding a “custody neutral assessment”

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Divorce, FAMILY LAW - Child Custody

Not all soon-to-be ex-couples want to endure an often expensive and demanding litigation process. Some choose to exhaust all amicable options before bringing their case before a judge.

However, mediation may still fail to resolve high-conflict issues sometimes. In some New Jersey counties, the court refers both parties to a “custody neutral assessment” (CNA). It is often the next step before a comprehensive custody evaluation and possible court proceedings.

What happens in a CNA?

Unlike a full custody evaluation that requires specialized psychological testing, a CNA’s purpose is to provide an overview report detailing significant insights or recommendations about custody and parenting time concerns.

A CNA involves mental health professionals conducting court-approved interviews to determine if the family’s circumstances need the following:

  • To appoint a parenting coordinator
  • To seek anger management therapy
  • To evaluate existing parenting time arrangements
  • To assess risks involved in the next courses of action

Further, a CNA can be favorable to those who prefer expedited means, usually finished within hours, to arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement instead of spending months of negotiations.

How does a CNA protect the family’s rights and interests?

Some challenges, like substance abuse and parental alienation, are too complex for mediation to address. A CNA can be the next attempt to sort things out to prevent a financially and emotionally draining court battle. Legal counsels can help both parties to make sound decisions. They can lay out consequences while protecting parental rights and interests, as well as the child’s future.