What is a Custody Neutral Assessment in New Jersey?
A custody neutral assessment (CNA) is a program run by the court resource center and the family division to help parties come to a resolution on child custody and visitation, particularly in high conflict cases. Upon referral to a CNA, a mental health professional will perform an evaluation and provide recommendations. A psychosocial evaluation details the relationship between the parties and the children as well as other factors including family dynamics, socioeconomics, and mental health issues. Every relevant party to the case is interviewed in order for the mental health professional to gain a thorough and adequate understanding of what is in the child's best interest. This evaluation allows professionals to make a recommendation and report back to the court to help the judge make a final determination on custody and parenting time.
One of the most important things to keep in mind during a divorce is the lasting effect it will have on the children. Although a CNA may be extremely beneficial in high conflict cases it is best to avoid court intervention, especially when it comes to custody and parenting time. A divorce is emotionally draining on all parties and in the heat of the moment, it may seem impossible to volunteer parenting time or come to an agreement on custody. However, it is important to remember that it is in the best interest of the children to spend time with both parents and retain a meaningful, healthy, relationship throughout one of the most troubling times of their lives.