Is A Custody Evaluation In Your Future?

Law Blog

If you are involved in a divorce, child custody dispute, or even attempting to obtain court ordered visitation, the court may order that you and the child's co-parent participate in a custody evaluation. But what is a custody evaluation, who conducts these, exactly what are they looking for, and who will they share their result with? Although this may be anxiety provoking, here is a little bit of information that may help to ease your mind.

What Is A Custody Evaluation?

A custody evaluation, which is sometimes referred to as a parenting evaluation, is a process in which a court appointed professional evaluates the members of a family and then submits their recommendations to the court. The court appointed professional may be a mental health professional, a Guardian ad Litem, family court services officer, or others. Some of their duties may include:

  • Gathering information
  • Conducting interviews
  • Testing
  • Making observations in the home
  • Monitoring compliance of court orders and more

In addition to these, the court appointed professional may also be asked to provide parents with problem solving, conflict resolution, or other skills that the court deem deficit in the parent's or guardian's life. 

Who Will They Talk To?

Your court ordered professional will probably want to speak with all of the adults that are involved in the case. Along with you and the child's other co-parent, they may want to speak to any boyfriends, girlfriends, or significant others. They may request to speak to the child's grandparents, or others who may be involved with the care of the child when they are in your care and custody. They may allow your attorneys to be present if you request it.

They may even request to speak to collateral contacts. These are other people outside of your family members who will be able to help the evaluator get a well-rounded picture of how your children are doing at home, as well as within the community. Some suggestions would be:

  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Ministers and others

It is important that these people answer the questions that are being asked by the evaluator and not use the time to talk bad about the other co-parent. They should remain focused on what is in the best interest of the child or children.

They will also probably want to meet with your child or children. While they may allow you or the co-parent to be present long enough to ensure that your child is comfortable, they are probably want to conduct the majority of the interview in private. Do not try to coach your child on what they should or should not say, or try to interrogate your child following the interview. Be supportive, remember this process is just as anxiety provoking to your child as it is to you.

How Long Will The Custody Evaluation Last?

This will vary from case to case, but it will also depend on if the court has asked for a full or a focused evaluation. The time involved in a full evaluation can range from between 15–20 hours, and a focused evaluation is slightly shorter with 12–18 hours. Do not worry. All of this time will not be spent with you, as some of it will be used to organize the information collected and prepare the required reports.  

Who Gets The Final Report?

The final report that is generated is given directly to the court, but your attorneys will probably be provided a copy at that time. The court will then use these findings, along with the evaluator's recommendations, to make their decision.

A divorce attorney will be able to give you additional information if the court is asking you to participate in a custody evaluation. They will provide you with a list of do's and don't's that should assist you in getting through it. They have extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with these types of evaluations. Ask them for their assistance. 


2 August 2017

File Chapter 7, and Keep Your Home

Many people assume that when they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will have to give up their homes and other property. This is not necessarily the case. I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I have helped many clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without giving up homes, cars, and other property. When you file for bankruptcy, the property you are allowed to keep depends on your individual circumstances and the state where you live. Most states allow exemption for property you are currently paying for. This blog will guide you through that information and help you determine if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.