Sadly, we work with families at CeDAR in which a marital relationship is no longer sustainable. We often connect this to the harm of active addiction, resulting in a painful and stressful divorce process.
Parental Responsibility Evaluation or PRE is an important service for these individuals to understand. A licensed professional typically conducts this evaluation with an understanding of family law, addiction treatment, and childhood advocacy. The ultimate responsibility of the evaluator is submitting recommendations to the court that ensure that the children involved are safe.
What are the components of a PRE?
A professional evaluation will determine if someone is struggling with active addiction or is in recovery. For our patients, this process can aid in the accountability of their path. The evaluator may interview doctors, therapists or sponsors involved in someone’s recovery.
Sometimes, the evaluator will ask involved parties to undergo brief psychological testing with a contracted psychologist. These tests help to measure personality traits, screen for potential psychiatric issues, and complement the interview process by the professional evaluator.
The evaluator will probably make recommendations regarding drug and alcohol monitoring over the upcoming future. Examples include drug screens or other methods to show abstinence from drugs and alcohol. These requirements will ultimately be agreed upon through mediation or by the ruling of a judge.
To secure good recovery and safety for any involved children, the evaluator may also recommend mandatory therapy or treatment for either or both of the parents.
Part of the evaluation will include getting to know the parents and children via interviews and a home visit. The evaluator will likely monitor the parents interacting with their children. They will look to understand how everyone gets along, enforce boundaries and meet the basic needs of the kids.
The PRE will discuss child custody and potential supervised visitation when necessary. In cases involving supervised visits, there will probably be an appropriate timeline determined by which these visits will occur. For instance, it may require one parent to have a parental supervisor during parenting time for the first month of reintegration.
This process is also common for those we treat at CeDAR, as they have likely been away from their family for a period of time, returning home to a complex divorce arrangement. They may have not seen their children during treatment, and this is especially true for those who enter sober living homes following residential care.
It is important to remember that a PRE is serving a legal purpose – advocating for the best interests of children within a family system. The evaluator will complete a report and file this with all involved parties. The evaluator may need to testify in a court proceeding if the family can’t reach an agreement through mediation.
For our patients at CeDAR, the potential anxiety around court hearings is incredibly high. Not to mention, the stakes of child custody can be unbearable for many patients. It is important to know the ramifications of a PRE so that people follow a recovery plan and appreciate the need for a healthy and stable household.
A Parental Responsibility Evaluation can be a stressful but necessary process for families dealing with divorce and early recovery. By understanding some factors involved, you are better able to work collaboratively with the evaluator and the court system.
One positive way to cope through this experience is through the psychological skill of reframing. Thinking about the situation from a position of accountability, the best interest of children and an unbiased expert’s opinion can help it feel more tolerable. This can help you both maintain your commitment to recovery while start moving towards the future with your children.