Court Conciliation and Evaluation Service of Bucks County
Consent & Waiver, Conflict of Interest, Definitions, Review & Release of Reports, Confidentiality, Ex Parte Rules, Stipulated Orders



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Consent and Waiver Form:

The Consent and Waiver Form stipulates that:

  • The clinician shall report all findings to the court.
  • The respective attorneys, but not the parties, shall receive copies of the report.
  • The parties waive their right to call the clinician for testimony in court.
  • The parties shall also waive payment and report filing deadlines.
  • Each party shall pay the Application Fee within fourteen (14) days of the custody conference or hearing.
  • All fees shall be paid in a timely manner in accord with CCES policy.
  • The parties will cooperate in scheduling so that all necessary appointments can be completed within 4-6 weeks.

Conflict of Interest:

CCES evaluators shall not have dual relationships with CCES clients, (e.g., serving as a therapist to one member of the family and then as an evaluator in the custody dispute). A evaluator shall disqualify himself/herself as an evaluator:

  • where she/he has had prior professional or personal contact with that CCES client, or with members of her/his family, or with significant others of the client;
  • when that evaluator has been a client of the attorney, or vice versa.

The new CCES client should report any prior or current association with an evaluator at the time of the custody conference.

Definitions: Unopened Case, Reopened Case, Incomplete Evaluation, Complete Evaluation, Second Evaluation:

  • A case is designated as Unopened when one or both parties fail to submit the application fee within the established time limit. The court is notified that the case has been closed.
  • A case is designated as Reopened when both parties have filed their Application Fees within the 6-month time limit. The court is notified only by receiving the final report.
  •  An evaluation is deemed Incomplete when the case has been assigned to an evaluator but there is insufficient information to complete a report of findings and a recommendation. The evaluator closes the case. The court is informed.
  • An evaluation is deemed Complete when all necessary sessions have been held and a report has been generated and sent to the court and the attorneys. “Necessary” sessions include the initial individual interviews with each party, the first joint interview with both parties, and all interviews with all of the children.
  • A Second Evaluation or Re-evaluation indicates that three months have elapsed [see previous paragraph] or that the first evaluation has been completed and the court[2] (or the parties) wish for the parties’ return to CCES. Parties undergoing a Second Evaluation must repeat the process in full, i.e.,submission of the Referral Form and the Consent and Waiver Form to the custody master, payment of the application fees to CCES, payment of the full evaluation fee to the evaluator, and participation in the CCES process in its entirety. The Director shall appoint an evaluator with input from the parties and from the first evaluator.
    The parties should not contact the original evaluator to begin a Second Evaluation. Evaluators who receive such a request will direct the parties to the Director of CCES. A new evaluator will complete the process from beginning to end and will not rely on data collected by the first evaluator. However, with the permission of both parties, the new evaluator may receive and read the first evaluator’s report.

Review of Reports and Other Documents/Confidentiality:

This policy has two objectives: 1) to make the reports accessible to the clients; and 2) to protect the confidentiality of the report because of the sensitive material it may contain.

  • All notification or informational letters, etc. sent to the court by CCES evaluators shall be copied to counsel or to pro se parties.
  • Parties may review the final CCES report in the office of their attorneys. Counsel agrees not to distribute a copy of this report to the clients. Counsel agrees that the report shall not be attached as part of any other petition or proceeding. In reviewing the report, parties may take notes on its contents.
  • Parties not represented by counsel (pro se)can arrange to review the report at the custody master’s office. The client may take notes. Parties will not be restricted in the number of times they can review the report unless other considerations prevail, e.g., inappropriate conduct.
  • Collateral persons who participated in the evaluation process, i.e., stepparents, grandparents, etc., may review only those portions of the report related to them.
  • Court personnel will make a copy of the report available to the client for use at a hearing but the client cannot take this copy with him/her at the completion of the hearing.

Release of CCES Reports to Mental Health Professionals or New Attorneys:

CCES will release a copy of the report to designated mental health agencies or private practitioners or to newly retained counsel. In order for a mental health professional or agency to receive a copy of the report, both parties to the litigation must sign an appropriate Release of Information form and submit that to the Director (not to the evaluator). If the CCES client retains a new attorney, in order to obtain a copy of any existing report, that attorney must file a letter with the Director indicating his/her representation of the client.

Ex Parte Rules:

To protect the objectivity and impartial nature of the evaluation process, evaluators, attorneys, and the parties shall follow these procedures:

1)  All written communications from the attorneys or the parties to the evaluator, or from the evaluator to the parties or attorneys, must be copied to both attorneys.
2)  If the party is pro se, he/she shall receive a copy of any written communication regarding the case, except for the final report. [See Review of Reports above.]
3)  Telephone calls to or from the CCES evaluator to an attorney or pro se client must include the participation of the other attorney or pro se client, except for routine notifications. Written notices about scheduling are exempt from ex parte rules.
4)  The responsibility for copying and sharing documents submitted to the evaluator for review shall fall on the parties and/or the attorneys, not on the CCES evaluator.
5)  Routine questions about the CCES process should go to the Director and not to individual evaluators.
6)  The content of any telephone conversation, other than routine notifications, from the party to the evaluator or from an interested third party to the evaluator shall be revealed to the other party as soon as possible.

Stipulated Orders Changing or Influencing the CCES Procedure Shall Not Be Binding:

A stipulated order, in which the parties have agreed on their own to psychological testing, or home studies, or to any other change in the CCES procedure, does not constitute cause, and such orders will not be binding on CCES.

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