Once parents decide to divorce, the next important decision is how the custody of the children will be handled. Many divorcing couples can work this out between themselves without any assistance from the court. However, there are some less amicable situations in which the court has to get involved when decisions cannot be made. Instead of taking the entire situation back to court, your attorneys may advise that you try a child custody evaluation first. The following are some things you need to know about a custody evaluation:
Who is the Evaluator?
The evaluator is often assigned by a judge. The parents may be able to choose from a selection of evaluators if they can come to an agreement on one. The attorneys for both parties to the divorce will also have to agree on the evaluator. If no one approves of the same evaluator, a private evaluator can be hired and paid for by both parents.
How is the Evaluation Conducted?
Once you have chosen an evaluator, you can expect several things to happen. First, both parents will be interviewed, along with the children in some circumstances. The evaluator will observe both parents interacting with the children individually. Based on the interactions of the parents and children, along with any additional documentation from the court file, the evaluator will complete a report on his or her findings and recommendations.
What Should Be Expected in the Report?
Both parents will get a copy of the evaluator's report. In it, you will see the evaluator's ideas about custody and visitation. They can make recommendations regarding the need for family or individual therapy if needed. The evaluator will also make note of any problematic behaviors, such as substance abuse, lack of attention or other issues that can affect custody. The report will also include the evaluator's recommendation of an ideal custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the kids.
Keep in mind that the evaluator's recommendations are not mandatory. You do not have to heed his or her custody arrangement. It is just a neutral third party with the necessary credentials to help determine what would be best in any given situation. If you or the other parent does not agree, you can have a second evaluation done. You can also opt to have no further evaluations done and take the case back to court. The evaluation is just a tool that can help many parents avoid a costly court battle when possible. Speak with your divorce lawyer to learn more about this step.Share
26 February 2018
Like many people, I once found learning about law very intimidating. My brother went to law school and I remember glancing through a few of his books and wondering if I was actually reading English due to all of the legal jargon in them! However, when I ended up in a sticky legal situation due to accidentally breaking a small law I didn't know existed, I realized that I needed to learn more about the law, so I could make sure to follow it precisely in the future. My brother helped to break down some complicated legal concepts to me, and I have since been studying up online. I want to post what I have learned and continue to learn about law in the future on my new blog, so my knowledge cannot only help myself, but also help others!