Dr. Kristin Tolbert
of the Psychological Center for Expert Evaluations, Inc., is a Licensed Psychologist in Palm Beach County, Florida. Her practice is limited to clinical and Forensic Psychology
with a focus on Family Law Matters
. Dr. Tolbert is an experienced expert witness and regularly provides psychological evaluations, litigation support, expert witness testimony, work-product reviews, and counseling services for individuals involved in family law matters.
Regularly appointed as an Expert Witness in Florida’s 15th Judicial Circuit, Dr. Tolbert is included in many registries including Social and Home Investigations (also referred to as Child Custody, Parenting Plans, or Time Sharing Evaluations), Psychological Evaluations, the Probate and Guardianship Examining Committee, Developmental Disabilities Examining Committee (Determination of Mental Retardation), and Adult and Juvenile Competency Evaluations.
Dr. Tolbert's Expert Witness services include Work Product Reviews, Preparation for Cross Examination, Rebuttal Witness Testimony, Second Opinion Evaluations, and Assistance identifying Psychological Factors or Techniques for Case Formulation. She is available to attorneys for Plaintiff and Defense.
Family Law Psychological Evaluations
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- Child Custody Evaluations
- Parental Time Sharing Evaluations
- Social Investigations and Parenting Plans
- Parental Alienation and Gatekeeping Evaluations
- Relocation Divorce / Parenting Cases
- Child Assessment of Physical, Mental, or Sexual Abuse
- Child Assessment of False Memories/False Allegations/Parental Undue Influence
- Adoption Readiness Evaluations
- Parental Fitness Evaluations and Risk Assessments
- Substance Abuse Evaluations
- Termination of Parental Rights Evaluations
It isn't uncommon for other professionals to become somewhat confused with the different types of mental health professionals today. What you should know is that, when it comes to the court system, the professional that generally has the largest scope of practice and are generally considered to be the authority in the mental health and forensic arenas are Psychologists. Psychologists, not to be confused with psychiatrists (who are medical doctors), are individuals who have attained a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) and also maintain the highest level of licensing in their state. In the state of Florida, a licensed clinical psychologist is the highest level (and authority) of licensing and education in the field of psychology.
· Family Issues
In high-conflict divorces in which DCF or the state become involved, there is sometimes the possibility that the children could become distant from one or both parents. Once the case plan or allegations are resolved, the parents will then need to be reintroduced into the children's live in a therapeutic, consistent, and safe manner. In these situations it is very important to know which intervention is needed as well as it's purpose and goal. A “one size fits all” plan doesn't is not always the best.
· Child Welfare
While physical abuse and sexual abuse are generally thought of as clear examples of child abuse, it is important to recognize that the effects of neglect, emotional abuse, parental substance abuse, and exposure to domestic violence can be just as damaging. The danger of these kinds of abuse is that they tend to be more difficult to identify due to the absence of physical evidence. Because of this, family members and members of the community may not always be as inclined to pick up the phone and call in an abuse report, despite the fact that it tends to be equally as damaging.
When a child is removed from their home due to abuse or neglect, that child can go through the very difficult process of grief and loss of their birth parents. The feeling of loss or grief aren't only about their parents, but that of extended family, home, pets, neighborhoods, schools, friends, treasured belongings, and in some cases culture. This is especially true for children who were removed from their home at an older age in which children are more alert and able to realize their situation.
Reunification Therapy is a practice that is now becoming more common for families who have experienced a high-conflict divorce or separation. Reunification Therapy can be defined as a kind of therapy used to re-introduce the parents and children to a supportive relationship, under the supervision and therapeutic guidance of a skilled therapist. Typically, the amount of time the process will take relies on the level of resistance from each of the parents, as well as the cooperation of the children. The time it takes to fully assess each individual involved will also play a large role in the length of the overall process.
Among many other states, Florida has taken a strong stance when it comes to protecting innocent children from being exposed to those who have been accused of sexually abusing them. In 2007, The Keeping Children Safe Act was adopted in the Florida legislative session and was intended to be utilized when a child's parent, relative, or caregiver has been accused of any form of sexual abuse. The Act demands that until the matter can be presented in a court hearing, protective actions must be put in put in place to prevent the child from potentially being re-exposed to any further abuse.
A forensic "Social Investigation", also referred to as a "Child Custody Evaluation" is an important tool often used by the Court to assist in determining custodial arrangements of the children involved. The Court typically orders an evaluation when litigants cannot agree on a custodial arrangement by themselves, or with the assistance of their lawyers or mediators. The aim of the evaluation is to provide the Court with important information relating to the child's "Best Interests" from a neutral expert who is qualified to assist the Court by offering clinical opinions on appropriate arrangements for the children involved.
There are very few topics that can spark as much emotion and negative attention as an allegation of child sexual abuse, especially when the accused is the child's own parent. These accusations are taken very seriously by nearly all responsible adults, often without much thought given to whether or not the claims could have been fabricated by the other parent. It seems almost inconceivable that any parent would go so far as to make up such a terrible thing, which unfortunately creates somewhat of the perfect storm for the handful of very disturbed parents who are willing to stop at nothing to remove the child's other parent from the picture. When done intentionally, false accusations of child sexual abuse are one of the most detrimental and extreme forms of parental alienation.
For parents who are co-parenting after a divorce, parental gatekeeping can become a very serious problem when trying to co-parent and communicate effectively. Parental gatekeeping is a term used to describe a parent's preferences and attempts to restrict and exclude the other parent from being involved in the child's development. Gatekeeping attitudes and behaviors can range from very positive, which are facilitative, to very negative, which are inhibitory, or to the most extreme known as Parental Alienation.
Chronic Litigation in Family Law Court refers to the cases that come back to court over and over again, generally for minor issues that could have very easily been handled without new motions being filed or hearings being scheduled.
If you have been recommended or ordered to complete a psychological evaluation, it is important to do your homework and carefully review your options before selecting a forensic psychologist for your case. The following list outlines important information you should consider before hiring your expert:
The child custody evaluation process should involve a rather systematic method of gathering information, formulating a hypothesis, and rendering opinions pertaining to the best interests of the children involved. Unfortunately, not all psychologists or mental health professionals are properly trained or even qualified to conduct these evaluations, yet they continue to perform them and have the potential to cause more damage than good.
In Palm Beach County, Florida, legal costs are on the rise, as are the number of divorces. Today, one of the cheapest and most effective ways parties are getting divorced is thorough family mediation.
Supervised Visitations are typically court-ordered and allow non-custodial parents or guardians to meet with their children in a safe and controlled environment, with the guidance of a neutral mental health provider, who monitors the supervision and writes a brief report about what took place. Normally, the visitations occur weekly at our agency, for a predetermined amount of time.