Child custody cases can be highly contentious. As a result, parents will oftentimes try to draw out the worst in each other, airing all of their dirty laundry in court. Of course, many parents are able to negotiate a child custody arrangement and avoid putting the matter in the hands of a judge who doesn’t know them, but others simply aren’t able to do so.
In these cases, a court will base its determination on what it feels is in the child’s best interests. This can be a challenging endeavor considering the he-said, she-said arguments that are often made and the variety of factors to be considered. This is why courts sometimes turn to child custody evaluations for help. These evaluators should be qualified professionals who bring some sort of expertise to the issues that are in controversy.
Child custody evaluators have broad discretion in investigating the matter at hand. They can speak to anyone with knowledge of the family, which might include neighbors, friends, family members, and school personnel. They can also review medical and schooling records. If warranted, an evaluator can recommend further evaluations to better gauge physical and mental health, too. This may even include something as intrusive as a psychological evaluation.
After gathering evidence, a child custody evaluator will compile a report with a number of recommendations pertaining to custody and visitation. This report can be powerful in a child custody proceeding, carrying a lot of weight with a judge. Although these reports are usually professional in nature and very confident sounding, they are not the end-all be-all of your case. You need to analyze them closely and figure out how to buttress the parts of the report that support your position while minimizing those that are harmful.
Therefore, you need to know how to approach these evaluations and appropriately address them in court. To better ensure that you’re building the best legal arguments possible for your case, it might be best to address these matters with an experienced family law professional.