An Overview Of What A Custody Evaluation Is And How It Can Impact Custody And Visitation Proceedings

If you’re amidst a divorce battle, while this may in itself be a very emotionally daunting experience, it is equally important to understand that you may have to contend with a child custody case if the judge decides you and your ex-spouse need a custody evaluation.

A custody evaluation is a layout or guidelines as to how both parents can play their part in raising their child while being divorced. It is going to tell you who is going to make the necessary decisions, etc. While you can decide all of this yourself during or before entering into a divorce proceeding, it is when ex-spouses aren’t able to reach a conclusive decision that the court rightly intervenes.

Understanding the Nuances of Child Custody Evaluations

Evaluation for child custody is essentially a report that is compiled by a court-assigned specialist, also known as an “evaluator”. The report the evaluator makes contains summarizations and analyses that they make and based on their finding, they recommend which parent can make the important decisions in the best interest of the child and who would ultimately get the custody. Evaluators are trained experts and a lot of them are also qualified child therapists and psychologists.

The process of evaluation can span from a few days to a couple of weeks. The professional will conduct thorough one-on-one interviews with your child and gather important information to ensure that the child is not being fed lies or manipulated by one parent to say particular things to the evaluator.

When Is a Custody Evaluation Required?

If it is proving difficult for divorced parents to reach an amicable decision regarding who gets to keep custody or make important decisions in line with the child’s needs, even after going through interventions and mediation, it then becomes necessary for the court to step in and make the decision. Parents also have the opportunity to willingly request an evaluation even if the court does not seek it.

Custody evaluations are typically the right choice when it comes to divorce cases where both ex-spouses don’t seem to agree on anything about the custody or where one or both parents are pointing fingers at each other claiming that the other parent is not fit enough to responsibly take custody.

How To Select the Right Child Custody Evaluator

Both parties have the chance to select an evaluator or they can have the judge decide. However, you may also consider discussing the matter with your attorney, who can also help choose an experienced and qualified evaluator.

Whatever decision you make, it is very important to appropriately acquire information about the evaluator whether the judge is doing the selection for you or if you are choosing one yourself. Your lawyer will be able to thoroughly ask them about their experiences and their professional experiences such as which cases they have worked on before.

More importantly, your lawyer will be able to determine whether the evaluator is biased against mothers or fathers when it comes to recommending custody during divorce.

Understanding the Process of Custody Evaluation

It is vital to take note that once an evaluator is assigned to your divorce proceeding, they are going to observe and analyze both the parents as well as the child objectively to identify a course of action that will be in the best interest of your kid. To arrive at the right conclusion, here are the following steps the professional would generally take as per the guidelines of the court:

The Potential Impact of Custody Evaluations on Child Visitation

Evaluations for child custody, while may seem the right course of action, do come with long-term implications on the parents’ visitation or parenting schedule. For example, the evaluation may make it possible for future parenting schedules or visitation modifications.

In addition, it is important to mention that as children grow older, their needs may change and they may also start to form their own opinions and understanding of the situation, which may beckon the court to reassess child custody in line with the child’s best interests.

In all, if you are going with a custody evaluation, you should consider future modifications and changes in your current custody schedule.

Potential Obstacles to Consider in a Custody Evaluation

Custody evaluations have their own sets of problems and complications that both parents should understand beforehand. For instance, the specialist may have issues acquiring the necessary information, which may potentially blunt their view or assessment, leading them to make a sub-optimal decision.

Similarly, it is also possible that the evaluator may succumb to personal biases in favor of either parent based on their past cases and experiences. This is why it is so important for the parents to delegate the responsibility of properly vetting the evaluator to their respective lawyers.

Challenging the Report Made By the Child Custody Evaluator

Another important element of child custody evaluations is challenging the report of the specialist. As soon as you learn or see that the evaluator is being biased or basing their judgment on obscure or subjective factors, you should discuss the matter with your attorney post-haste, preferably before the evaluator submits their report. It is possible that if you contest the report after it has been submitted to the court, the judge may throw your challenge out of the window.

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