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Child-centered Family Evaluation (CCFE)
(aka, Child Custody Evaluation and Parenting Plan Evaluation)

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What is CCFE?
CCFE is an evaluation process intended to answer questions posed by the court so as to assist in making decisions about one or more children's future best interests.

CCFE is appropriate when separating, divorcing, and/or relocating parents dispute details of their children's future care including, for example, the division of residential responsibilities (aka "physical custody") and the division of decision-making authority (aka, "legal custody"). The CCFE process is conducted by a specially trained mental health professional who works to collect relevant social, emotional, and developmental data. The CCFE process typically yields a lengthy and detailed report that is provided to the court.


(1) ... an assessment of any individual adult, although aspects of individual adult functioning are commonly highlighted in the CCFE process;

(2) ... a parenting capacity evaluation (PCE). Whereas CCFE focuses on the relationship fit among the particular individuals involved, PCE focuses on a particular adult's generic understanding of and capacity to provide the basics of childcare;

(3) ... a decision-making process. The Court makes decisions. CCFE may be able to make relevant recommendations. In many instances, CCFE can minimize or curtail the acrimonious legal process by prompting litigants to settle based on an understanding of the CCFE's outcome.

(4) ... psychotherapy. The CCFE evaluator will not intervene, give advice, or otherwise make interim recommendations during the course of the evaluation process.
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Do I need a court order?
Yes. CCFE requires a court order.

The court's order must set forth the specific questions that the court intends the CCFE process to address. It is NOT sufficient for the court to order:

"Parties will engage Dr. Garber to complete a child-centered family evaluation."

Instead, the order might read:

"Parties will engage Dr. Garber to complete a child centered family evaluation so as to advise the court why Sally and Billy are strongly allied with their Mother and resisting or refusing contact with their father and what next steps are most appropriate to allow the children to enjoy a healthy relationship with both (all) caregivers.

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What does CCFE include?
CCFE is a comprehensive evaluation of the transitioning family system. Each CCFE is crafted to serve each family's unique needs and the court's particular orders. In general, CCFE typically includes:

(1) Joint co-parent interview(s) when such a meeting does not breach existing restraining orders to pose a subjective threat to any participant.

(2) Individual adult interviews reviewing history, perspective, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs for the children's best interests.

(3) Interviews with others involved in the child's world, e.g., parent's partners, grandparents, nannies, neighbors, extended family.

(4) Interviews with each child.

(5) Interviews and/or observations of each child with each family group.

(6) In some circumstances, individual adult psychometric testing is conducted.

(7) Review of historical and collateral documents including court records, arrest records, health records, and mental health records.

(8) Integration of addition assessments specific to need, e.g., drug and alcohol evaluation, domestic violence evaluation, neuropsychological assessment.

Dr. Garber is a pioneer in developing
more time- and cost-efficient
CCFE processes.

Process-oriented observational

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What does CCFE cost?
CCFE is charged on a per hour basis. The process typically requires between 40 and 60 hours inclusive of delivery of a  final summary report. Additional time can be necessary when lengthy travel time is required, there are more than two children, allegations of substance abuse, violence, extreme psychopathology, and other extraordinary conditions.

The hourly costs associated with CCFE will be specified in the initial Statement of Understanding issued by Dr. Garber.

See a sample
Statement of Understanding
at right
generic Statement of
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I want to learn more.
There are at least four avenues to pursue:

(1) Reach Dr. Garber directly via email with general questions about CCFE. Please do not pose questions specific to your situation. Contact Dr.

(2) Reach your attorney to learn more. If you do not have an attorney, your state may provide free or low cost pro bono assistance. In New Hampshire go to New Hampshire Legal assistance NHLA

(3) If you research online (e.g., Google) use the phrase "child custody evaluation" and be a very careful consumer.

(4) Following are a few select resources that may be helpful. Click on each cover to learn more:

                                  and Science


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