When parents divorce, they often have an idea or expectation of how custody of the children will be handled. However, there are some cases in which the situation does not go as planned and the court has to intervene. For those who can’t work out an agreement, but don’t want to drag the issue to court, a family law attorney can advise that a child custody evaluation be considered. Here are some things to know about the evaluation.
How Is an Evaluator Chosen?
The judge may assign an evaluator, or the divorced couple may be able to choose from several offered by the court. The ex-spouses, along with their respective lawyers, will have to agree on the person conducting the evaluation. If both parties cannot agree on the person to handle the case, it will be necessary to either pay for a private evaluator or have two different individuals of each person’s choosing. Also, if there are any special circumstances, like if a child has special needs, it is important that the person dealing with the case has some experience with those types of situations.
What Is Involved With the Process?
After making the decision to go with an evaluation, there are several things one should expect to happen. First, both former spouses will be interviewed. The child or children may also be interviewed. The evaluator will spend some time observing each parent, separately with the children while taking note of the interactions. They may also review the court file as well as gather information from the children’s doctors, teachers, and caregivers. They will then prepare a report on their findings.
What Kind of Information Is in the Report?
Once the evaluation is complete, both parents and the court will receive a copy of the findings in a report. This report will include the evaluator’s thoughts on custody, visitation, and time-sharing. They may also recommend therapy in some cases, depending on the individual situation. Also, if the evaluator noticed issues such as substance abuse or depression, there may be recommendations on how to deal with that as well. They will ultimately determine and recommend an ideal custody agreement for everyone involved.
After receiving the report, it is important that each parent discusses the findings with his or her family law attorney. If the findings of the report are not satisfactory, it is possible to request a second evaluation. However, if the findings are suitable, each parent can agree to the course of action recommended in the report instead of going to court. For this to happen, both parents will have to agree to the terms of the custody arrangement outlined in the evaluator’s report.
Having a child custody evaluation can be helpful and time-saving. It can provide a way for the divorced parents to resolve the issue and prevent an ugly court appearance. To consider a custody evaluation, be sure to request more information about the process from a family law attorney.