| What is a custody evaluation?
An evaluation of
both of the parents and the children by a neutral evaluator to
determine the best custody arrangement for a child. The court can order
a custody evaluation, or a parent or lawyer can request one.
provides custody evaluations?
psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers can give custody
evaluations. Your lawyer can usually recommend someone to you who is
experienced and has the proper credentials. Because these types of
evaluations are specialized work, it is important that an expert in
this field perform the evaluation.
does the evaluator work for?
The evaluator is
independent and neutral and is looking out for the best interests of
the child, regardless of who pays for the evaluation. The evaluator
does not work for the attorney or the parents.
is the cost?
often ask for a retainer fee, just as lawyers often do. The retainer
may cover the entire cost of an evaluation, especially if it is
uncomplicated, or there may be additional costs. Custody evaluations
are costly, but are often the only solution when parents can not agree
on a custody arrangement.
is included and what will I have to do?
Both parents may
receive one or several personality tests. Adults in the home will need
to be interviewed, and the children will be interviewed. Home visits
are sometimes also needed. The evaluator will want to contact previous
therapists, family members, and possibly teachers and friends.
types of questions will I be asked?
Although all custody
situations are unique, you may be asked questions about your
background, family history, and mental health, as well as questions
about who is responsible for the child’s care, what the
child’s needs are, and why the parents have been unable to agree
on a plan.
prepares a report that is then sent to both lawyers. Your lawyer will
review the findings with you and decide if a trial is in your best
interest. If a trial is still needed, the report will then be sent to
should I react to this evaluation?
It is in your best
interest to be open and cooperative with the evaluator. Be truthful and
candid when you are tested and when interviewed. Remember, the
evaluator wants what is best for your child.
What Should I Bring to a Custody Evaluation?
The names and addresses of relatives and friends
who are familiar with your parenting style.
A list of your family’s doctors, as well
as any mental health professionals you and your family have seen in the
A copy of your current custody agreement.
Copies of any relevant documents that you believe may be
important to the evaluator.