If you are a parent going through a divorce, you and your spouse will have to come to an agreement concerning the custody of your children. When parents can’t arrive at a solution on their own, the court will often order a custody evaluation; however, the parents can also request one themselves. Custody evaluators are mental health professionals with experience working with children, usually as therapists or psychologists. Their duty is to make recommendations for issues such as: custody plans, therapy, dealing with family conflicts, etc.
How does the evaluation work?
The custody evaluation will consist of multiple steps, which can include:
- Interviews with you and your spouse individually
- Interviews with your children individually
- Interviews with other people involved in your children’s lives such as teachers, family members, doctors, etc.
- Observing the interactions of you and your spouse with your children
- Looking over court documents concerning the divorce and child custody
- Administration of psychological testing to any of the individuals in the family
After the custody evaluator gathers all the relevant information, they will compile a report for the court. The report will include both their findings and their recommendations as to how custody should be allocated.
Tips for the Custody Evaluation Process
- Stay calm.
- Be punctual and prepared. The custody evaluator will most likely ask for information such as medical records, proof of employment, and court documents.
- Be honest.
- Do not tell your children what to say. The custody evaluator needs to hear from them without either parent trying to interfere.
What if I disagree with the custody evaluator’s recommendations?
The judge does not have to follow the custody evaluator’s recommendations. If, during the process, you have concerns about the impartiality or the fitness of the custody evaluator, talk to your lawyer before the report is submitted. If the report has already been submitted and you do not agree with the custody evaluator’s recommendations, ask your lawyer how best to fight it in court.