Brief Focused Assessments - Santa Clara Superior Court

Criminal icon Project Name: Brief Focused Assessments
Court: Santa Clara Superior Court
   Documents: Form
   Links: Therapists offering BFA
    Local Rule: Custody and Visitation

Overview/Program Description:

In family law cases, judicial officers may order Brief Focused Assessments (BFA) on limited issues related to child custody and visitation. The parents work with a court-appointed private mental health professional to address courts' concerns on the specific issues outlined in the court order for a BFA. At the completion of the BFA, the mental health professional makes recommendations to the court addressing those specific issues. BFAs are meant to be an alternative to the court-ordered, full evaluations done by the Family Court Services (FCS) division of the court. These full evaluations took a long time to complete and were costly, especially if they were done by a private mental health professional. Because of the limited scope of these assessments, some mental health professionals doing BFAs offer them at a reduced fee for low-income families.

Program Benefits/Savings:

Families are served more quickly and at less expense than when full evaluations are ordered. In many instances, matters settled with the assistance of a mental health professional's recommendations so there are fewer long cause custody and visitation trials.

Other Courts Using Similar Programs:

  • San Mateo Superior Court
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