n a contested child custody case, the judge will sometimes appoint a child custody evaluator to make recommendations to the court. The custody evaluator is often an expert trained in psychology who has experience in child custody matters. A child custody evaluator can make recommendations about visitation, custody, and other important rights of the parents. This post will discuss what to expect and how to best participate in a child custody evaluation.

A child custody evaluator has many tasks when conducting her evaluation. She will interview the parents and the children. She will speak with other relevant third parties, such as therapists treating the family or teachers. She will review relevant records, such as police records, medical records, and school records. If the evaluator is a psychologist, she may also conduct a psychological evaluation of the parties and possibly the children. The purpose of these tasks is to understand the dynamics in each family and assess what is best for the children going forward.

A parent participating in a child custody evaluation should keep several things in mind. First, the custody evaluator gets most of her information about the case from the parties and their lawyers. This means that it is up to the parents and their attorneys to provide the evaluator with relevant information about their case. If, for instance, a family member witnessed an argument between the parents, it would be important to provide the evaluator with the information so she can interview this person. Or, if the child struggles in school, the evaluator may wish to speak with the teacher.

It is the job of the custody evaluator to make recommendations that she thinks are in the best interest of the child. This means that the evaluator should not “take sides” with either parent. When interacting with the evaluator, it is good to remember that she is a neutral professional appointed by the judge. Judges appoint custody evaluators in the most complicated cases and take their recommendations seriously. The most important thing is to be honest and forthright when interacting with the evaluator.

Lastly, the custody evaluator can sometimes have a lot of influence over the outcome of a child custody case. It is not uncommon that a custody evaluator will make recommendations that neither parent is completely happy with. This can move the parties towards settlement and help them evaluate the merits of their case. Even when the recommendations are not favorable, it is important to take their recommendations seriously.

Here at Thompson Salinas Londergan, LLP, we have experience with cases that involve custody evaluators and other mental health professionals. We can help you decide whether a child custody evaluator is proper for your case. And we can also help you navigate the process once one has been appointed.

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