Caoimhe has twenty years experience as an expert witness in Custody and Access cases. She has worked extensively with lawyers and with the court system providing reports. Caoimhe brings a psychotherapeutic orientation to the assessment process and parents are invited to engage in a process that offers a space to “think about” the best interests of their children.
What is a Section 47 Assessment/Section 32
During litigation the court often requests the assistance of a mental health professional before determining the best interest of a child or children. This report is referred to as a section 47 report. The report provides an opinion to the court based on the assessment of the child/children’s developmental needs, the attachment to the parents, the child’s expressed wishes and the body of research relevant to a particular case.
As an assessor Caoimhe endevours to work therapeutically within the legal system and she attempts to work towards resolution, inviting clients to engage in a therapeutic process rather than an adversarial process.
How to explain the assessment to your child
This varies with the age and level of maturity of your child. Generally children six years and older will comprehend it if you explain that I meet with children whose parents are separating to hear their views about the matter.
It is important to explain that I need their help to understand their family and how it might function once their parents are separated or if they are already separated help to understand what might be best for the children. In my experience children respond very well to the process and frequently request return visits as it gives them an opportunity to have their voice heard in the midst of conflict. The assessment of a particular child may involve the use of art material, or play therapy materials especially with a younger or reluctant child. The practice is child friendly and children have access to play materials and to a garden.
What does a Section 47/32 assessment involve?
The following represent the most common assessment consultations:
- Individual interviews with the parents
- Interviews with the children
- Interviews with the children and each parent
- Sibling interviews
- Consultations with teachers, doctors, counselors, and perhaps Grandparents or step-parents when appropriate.
- Consultations with legal teams when appropriate.
- Parents are generally invited to a joint feedback session and at times lawyers are invited to attend.