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Current Issues in Family Law
The Ohio Supreme Court has approved a new rule that provides guidelines and standards for courts and mental health professionals who evaluate child custody cases.
Effective Sept. 1, 2022, Rule 91 in the Rules of Superintendence for Ohio establishes requirements for custody evaluators, while providing accountability and uniformity of practice necessary to safeguard the well-being of children and families within the state’s 88 counties.
A custody evaluator is an objective, impartial, qualified mental health professional appointed by the court to perform a child custody evaluation.
Prior to its approval, there had been no statute or statewide court rules to specifically govern the specialty practice of child custody evaluation.
Specifics of Rule 91 address how custody evaluations should be conducted and what is to be expected of an evaluator.
The standardization of these experts includes necessities, such as education and licensure requirements, initial training and continuing education, evaluation components, and evaluator responsibilities and ethical considerations.
From a court perspective, the rule creates judicial system requirements including how evaluators are appointed.
To ensure accountability and transparency, a complaint and removal process must be created by the local court as well as provisions regarding custody evaluation reports and the ability to access them.
Kimberly Thomas, Family Law Attorney.