Author(s): Leslie Drozd, Nancy Olesen, Michael Saini
The three authors are active custody and parenting plan evaluators, teach workshops on custody evaluations and parenting, and review reports prepared by other evaluators. Their experience has made them acutely aware of the flaws that appear in some evaluations despite the development of professional association guidelines and standards, on-going continuing education programs on these topics, and increasing demands from the courts and attorneys for evaluations of the highest quality.
This book is about developing systematic ways to improve the processes evaluators use to create and test hypotheses, collect information, organize the information evaluators have, and analyze the data in a transparent and comprehensive way. The authors also share an interest in visual ways to organize information in these evaluations: charts, decision trees, and grids. They include many reproducible 8 ½" X 11" checklists and tools to reduce human biases and errors and to improve the accuracy of decision making. They believe that the processes they describe may mirror the process used by judicial officers in sorting and weighing evidence, creating clusters of factors around issues, and generating decisions based on the overall evidence presented in court. These tools were "field tested" in the authors' practice and teaching, and they believe the consistency and transparency of decision making has increased with the aid of these tools.
Throughout the book, the deliberate use of the term parenting plan evaluation (PPE) rather than child custody evaluation is more than just semantics or an attempt to further confuse the field with yet another new term. The authors strongly believe that it is critical for those who work with families to emphasize the importance of parenting over the ownership implications of determining custody. Although both terms are used interchangeably throughout the book to be consistent with previous writings, the term parenting plan evaluations is used in the development of the resources that have been created to make better parenting plan decisions.