CCES Process in Bucks County and What to Expect
Have you recently been ordered or agreed to participate in the CCES program? The process can be extensive and confusing for most. You may be thinking to yourself, what is it that I need to know, how much does it cost and what happens after CCES. Let’s start at the beginning. The court will issue an order for the parties to participate in CCES. This can be by agreement or recommendation of the court. The parties will complete the Referral Form and the Consent and Waiver Form. Once the forms are received by CCES you will receive a notice to submit your portion of the fee within 14 days. It is important to submit your fee within the applicable time frame. If payment is not received, CCES will notify all parties including the court.
Once the forms and fees are received, an evaluator will be assigned to your case. The evaluator will contact each party to schedule their first individual meeting. During this initial meeting, you will have the opportunity to discuss the history of the case and any concerns or points of contention you may have with your ex that have lead you to CCES. Now is the time to provide any documentation that you would like the evaluator to review. Depending on the evaluator, you may want to discuss with your evaluator prior to the initial meeting what type of documents they will review. For example, specific school and medical records would be beneficial. However, large quantities of text messages may be less desirable and unwanted by the evaluator. It is best to discuss this with them prior to providing the documents so that you may explain why you feel those documents are important for them to review.
After both parties have had their individual meetings with the evaluator, a joint session will be held. The joint meeting allows the evaluator to take a look at the parents together and how they interact with one another. This is especially necessary to gauge how the parties co-parent and whom may be inhibiting a co-parenting relationship. At the joint session, the evaluator will go through the points of contention and get each parties perspective and feedback on said issues. The evaluator will also be reading the parties body language, consistency in story, as well as how they respond to the other party and how they speak about the other parent. After the joint meeting, the evaluator will meet with the children individually if they are of the appropriate age. Subsequently, the evaluator will hold a second joint meeting with the parents to discuss the children’s sessions and any questions the evaluator may have. This gives the parents the opportunity to include context to the findings of the evaluator or expand on the findings/statements. Finally, in some situations, parties that are not the parents may be asked to participate in the evaluation. This is generally requested when said third party spend a significant amount of time with the children. Examples of third party participants include, but are not limited to, significant others, stepparents, grandparents and/or other household members.
At the conclusion of the meetings, the evaluator will review all of the relevant documents and notes from the meetings/interviews. A clinical recommendation will be made based on the best interest of the children and a report will be issued to all parties including the court. In the report it will include a thorough breakdown of the clinical findings, the statements of the parties and the evaluator’s recommendation on how to resolve any disputed topics between the parties. When determining a resolution of any issues, the evaluator will apply the 16 factors used for determining custody. The process of CCES from start to finish is approximately 6-8 weeks and depending on the case load of the evaluator, the report could take a few months to generate. Once the report is completed, all parties will receive a copy of the report. If the parties cannot reach an agreement based on the recommendation of the evaluator, either party may Motion for a Hearing with the Judge.
It is strongly advisable once consults with an experienced attorney before heading into a trial after the CCES process is completed.