I have a long association as a consultant psychologist with the Offices of the Family Advocate in Port Elizabeth, Graaff-Reinet and East London.
My work centres mainly on custody and contact evaluations, or rather, primary residence and contact as it is known in the new Children’s Act, as well as helping couples draw up a Parenting Plan.
Disputes regarding which parent should have primary residence of the minor children and what type of contact the absent parent should have, are major areas of concern for parents as they start the process of divorce.
Some of these issues may be dealt with through the process of mediation by the Family Advocate, but it is often the case that an in-depth psychological evaluation is needed for the Family Advocate to make a fully informed recommendation to court.
An evaluation of this nature always focuses on the best interests of the children, which involves extensive interviews with the parents, often including personality testing.
The children are also sensitively interviewed and assessed and my approach always includes an observation of the interaction between the child or children and each parent.
Collateral sources are also consulted.
It is important to stress that whatever recommendations are made, each of the parties always has a final recourse to the courts.