The Court Conciliation and Evaluation Service, or CCES for short, is a program in Bucks County that conducts custody evaluations for pending court cases. Parties to a custody matter would participate in a series of sessions with an assigned evaluator. The goal of the program is to facilitate an ideal co-parenting relationship that provides for the best interests of the child(ren) involved. The end result of the program is either an agreement on custody or a full clinical report including a recommendation which is then provided to the court. In addition to the parents and the children, additional parties can be interviewed as part of the CCES process based on their role in the parties’ lives or unique insight they may be able to provide. On average, it takes 6-8 weeks for the process to be completed with the report due to the court within 45 days of the final session. An expedited evaluation which is completed in a matter of days is possible only in emergency situations or when one or both of the parties live out-of-state.
As far as procedure, parties are generally referred to CCES following the initial custody conference if the parties are agreeable; otherwise, the parties may be ordered to participate following a hearing. A referral form is completed which includes contact information for both parties as well as case information. This form is submitted to CCES. Both parties are responsible to submit an application fee directly to CCES prior to the start of the sessions. Parties are each responsible for the fee for the evaluation at the first meeting with the evaluator. Parties should also bring any documents they want the evaluator to review to the first meeting. The CCES report is a confidential document and cannot be dispersed directly to the clients based on the sensitive information it contains. Represented parties can view the report at their attorney’s office. Unrepresented parties can make arrangements to view the report at the custody master’s office. A custody hearing can be requested after the report is received instances where an agreement could not be reached during the process.