New rule standardized the assessors of kid custody

A recently approved rule provides guidance and details necessary for mental health professionals to assess child custody.

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A recently approved rule provides guidance and details necessary for mental health professionals to assess child custody.

The Ohio Supreme Court approved a new rule that provides guidelines and standards for courts and psychiatrists evaluating child custody cases.

Effective September 1, 2022, Rule 91 in the Ohio Superintendent Rules sets requirements for the custody auditor while providing the accountability and consistent practice necessary to protect the well-being of children and families in the state’s 88 counties.

A custody reviewer is an objective, impartial, qualified psychiatrist who is appointed by the court to conduct a custody assessment.

Prior to its approval, there was no law or national court code specifically regulating the special practice of custody assessment.

The details of Rule 91 deal with how a custody assessment should be conducted and what to expect from an assessor.

The standardization of these experts includes requirements such as training and admission requirements, training and further education, evaluation components as well as evaluator responsibility and ethical considerations.

From a judicial point of view, the rule creates requirements for the judicial system, including the way in which experts are appointed.

In order to guarantee accountability and transparency, a complaint and removal procedure must be created by the local court and rules on the custody reports and their access options created.

Guidelines for an initial training program and continuing education related to the rule have also been developed. An educational program must include conducting custody assessments, the interface between mental health and the legal system, core competencies and other specialized subject areas.

Ohio Judicial College will provide training. Any training offered by outside providers is approved by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Children and Families spearheaded the amendment to the policy with a working group of judges, judges and mental health professionals to investigate custody assessment issues. The group reviewed existing provisions in Ohio law, regulations in other states, and standards of practice from leading national professional associations to tailor standards for custody assessment in Ohio.

The Advisory Committee will also develop a toolkit with a sample local code and a sample appointment code to aid in the implementation of the local courts.

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