Daniel J. Rybicki, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
Seminars & Publications | Consultation Services | Common Questions
Most inquires for Family Law matters ask about the various levels of possible forensic service. There are three (3) such levels of service. Dr. Rybicki is limiting his practice to only providing psychological testing and critique/review and consultation services at present. The following information is intended to provide you with some sense of what those services might entail.
The first level is for psychological testing, such as requested by the GAL or other professionals. That usually costs about $1500 to $2200 per adult, and does not lead to a "best interest" recommendation. In most cases, it cannot determine the "truth" of various competing allegations. What it does offer is information on the psychological adjustment of the party that is evaluated, and it allows me to draw inferences and conclusions about parenting skills and knowledge. Tests generally include the MMPI-2 an other personality measures such as the MCMI-III, Rorschach Comprehensive System, various parenting measures, etc. Some cases will request additional parenting observations which extends the range of professional opinion to issues of parent-child relationship, bonding, quality of parenting skills. This additional component might add some $300 to $400 to the assessment.
The other central service provided by Dr. Rybicki involves reviewing the psychological testing reports of others including parenting evaluations and related reports (e.g., such as parenting capacity reports for Dependency Court). The focus is on whether proper data collection methods were used, whether there was a logical nexus between the data and the findings or recommendations, and whether there was attention paid to other factors noted in the research. On average these cases involve an initial retainer of about $500 to $750 and may expand to report preparation or court appearance (which can raise costs substantially). If this is what you need, please inquire about customary fees.
The last major area of service includes consultation as an expert with possible rebuttal testimony. This may be based on a review of documents in a case. Conclusions about best interests of children or diagnostic formulations about persons not seen directly for evaluation cannot be provided under this level of service. This is not a "second opinion" process but rather one which looks at the methods of assessment and evaluation used by others (psychologist, social worker, Guardian ad Litem) and offers input to counsel regarding the degree to which sound conclusions have been provided. This may lead to developing questions for deposition or cross or may move to the level of offering rebuttal testimony in court. As before, these cases typically involve an initial retainer of about $500 to $750 and may expand to report preparation or court appearance (which can raise costs substantially). If this is what you need, please inquire about customary fees.
While custody evaluators develop their own unique methods for making such assessments, many will follow the guidelines set forth by the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) (View the APA guidelines here).
Another common reference point is the set of guidelines available from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). (View the AFCC guidelines here or see other practice guidelines at their website at www.afccnet.org ).
Most custody evaluators are court appointed, have quasi-judicial immunity, conduct interviews and observations with each parent and with the children, perform some review of records, collect information from collateral sources, and utilize some psychological testing. Most generate lengthy reports to the court and offer recommendations for custody and visitation. While cases may differ in their specific requirements, the typical evaluation will take between 25-35 hours of professional time and cost between $6,000 and $9,000 or more.
States differ in their allowance for professional psychological services by persons not locally licensed. Dr. Rybicki always checks local requirements before accepting cases in states where he is not currently licensed. Some services can be provided remotely, including consultation and assistance via e-mail and fax, as well as direct contact with you and your attorney. If the case demands that we make an evaluation with you, you may come to our local offices, or if acceptable with local statutes, we will arrange to travel to you. Court appearances under court order often are acceptable in most states. In all instances where there is travel beyond the home office in Washington, extra travel charges will be incurred. More information regarding such travel fees and portal to portal fees is available through Dr. Rybicki.
Each case will demand differing amounts of professional time and possible travel and testimony. A full fee schedule is available upon request. Most forensic services such as document review, report preparation, and telephone consultation time will be billed at the rate of $250 per hour, with additional fees for travel & testimony. Simple cases may require only a few hours of work, but you should generally figure that most cases will demand about 10 hours of work or more, and a retainer may need to be established up front. Contact us with your questions and we can discuss fees and other issues.
Where can I find an attorney?
While each case may demand special types of legal expertise, you can generally begin by speaking with any attorney you know that will provide you with other names. The local bar association or state bar association may offer specialty listings of attorneys. There are also useful websites, including http://www.findlaw.com which may be helpful.
Where can mental health professionals, GALs, court personnel and attorneys get training and up-to-date information about family law matters?
There is a newly-formed Washington State Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Dr. Rybicki served as the Founding President of this chapter. Dr. Rybicki is working with other local professionals in developing training programs and other events. For more information about the Washington Chapter please see www.wa-afcc.net or get additional information about AFCC at their website www.afccnet.org.