Will You Require A Child Custody Evaluation?

A child's best interest should always be your and the court's goals in child custody cases. Discerning precisely what that is can be difficult. The court may order a child custody evaluation to assist the court and the involved child custody lawyers in determining this. What is a child custody evaluation, and how do you prepare for one? Here is some information to assist in answering those questions. 

What Does a Child Custody Evaluation Consist Of?

A child custody evaluation is a full investigation exploring the safety and welfare of a child performed by a court-appointed evaluator who is often a mental health expert. This thorough evaluation is more than one visit.

It can take several weeks for the evaluator to meet with everyone and collect all the necessary information. Once they complete the evaluation, they submit their findings and recommendations to the court regarding who should have custody. 

How Does The Court Choose an Evaluator?

The judge, your custody lawyer, or your ex-spouse's lawyer may recommend the court-appointed mental health professional conducting the evaluation. Depending on where you live, the court may have a list of professionals who have performed this task in the past that they choose from. 

Your child custody lawyer will be a rich source of information about evaluators they have worked with. While you would like to assume that each evaluator presents as a fair, neutral, non-biased person, this is sometimes not the case. 

Sometimes, evaluators' opinions can be skewed or biased. For example, some evaluators have a history of recommending placement with the mother over the father due to past cases they worked. Because child custody lawyers work with evaluators in numerous cases, they will know their past performance.

If you cannot agree with your ex-spouse on an evaluator, you can hire your own. If you choose to do this, be aware that you both will be responsible for paying for the cost of a separate evaluation.

What to Expect From a Child Custody Evaluation?

The evaluator will meet with numerous people to perform their evaluation. These people include:

  • You
  • Your ex-spouse
  • Your child 
  • Teachers
  • Child care providers
  • Extra-curricular coaches
  • Family friends
  • Immediate and extended family members

They can meet with anyone they feel can shed light on your relationship with your child. In addition to these numerous meetings, the evaluator may ask you, your ex-spouse, and your child to participate in psychological testing. 

They can also review all types of records about your family, including medical and school records. Once they gather all the needed information, they will make their recommendation to the court. 

For more information, contact a custody lawyer near you.