Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
Child Custody | Psychological/Home Evaluations

Psychological and/or home evaluations may be ordered in a custody case by a child custody officer, Judge, or hearing officer.

Allegheny Forensic Associates (AFA) conducts psychological evaluations. Once an order is issued for psychological evaluations, the assigned evaluator will contact the parties and schedule the appropriate appointments. Evaluators may administer certain psychological tests and conduct interviews and/or observations. When the evaluation is completed, the evaluator will issue a report to the parties and the assigned Judge.

A party may praecipe for a judicial conciliation before the assigned Judge with the docket clerk within thirty days of receipt of the report, if they wish to go forward.

In custody matters, if requested by either party or if ordered by a child custody officer, hearing officer or judge, parties may be referred for a home evaluation. The officer or judge will determine and allocate the total fee. Requests to reallocate fees will only be addressed in motions court by the assigned judge. Home evaluations are conducted by qualified individuals who have experience in these matters.

Frequently Asked Questions about psychological evaluations:
  1. How much will the psychological evaluations cost?
    The fee for psychological evaluations is assessed on a sliding scale that is based on the parties’ combined income.
  2. What if I cannot afford to pay the fees?
    If you fail to pay the fees within the timeframe ordered, the case may be dismissed and/or you may be charged with contempt for failure to pay fees. You may present a motion to the assigned Judge requesting reallocation of fees or an extension of the timeframe in which to pay them.
  3. How should I prepare my child for the evaluation process?
    A brief, non-specific description in which you tell your child(ren) that you, as parents, are having some trouble figuring out the best way for them to see you both and that your family is going to go talk to someone who is going to try to help is a good response. Do not coach your child(ren) on what to say to the evaluator. Encourage your child to tell the evaluator the truth and to participate in the process.
  4. How long will the evaluation process take?
    Once the fees are assessed, you generally have twenty days to submit payment. Once payment is received, the evaluator is assigned.
  5. Evaluations are usually completed within sixty days of the assignment date.