Basics of Custody EvaluationCustody evaluations can be expensive, but some courts have lower-cost alternatives. Though ordered by the court, the parties usually pay for the evaluation. The court may assign an evaluator to you or may allow you to choose from a list of evaluators. Regardless of who chooses the evaluator and who pays for the evaluation, the evaluator should be neutral and should not have a patient-therapist relationship with anyone in the family either before or after the evaluation.
Custody Evaluation ProcessThe evaluator is working to make a determination of the best interests of the child. The typical custody evaluation consists of interviews with each parent and the children; observation of parental interaction with each child in the office and potentially at home; psychological testing as necessary; review of court documents; interviews with people like teachers; and pediatricians and daycare providers as necessary. Once the evaluation process is complete, the evaluator will issue a report with recommendations regarding custody and visitation. Most evaluators will specifically address concerns raised by each parent in making recommendations.
Custody Evaluation ReportThe custody evaluator may meet with you to discuss the report. Most reports contain:
- A recommendation regarding custody and visitation
- A parenting plan to help you carry out the recommended schedule and a process for resolving future problems
- Suggestions for therapy or parenting classes as needed
- Guidelines for dealing with special problems like abuse, violence, or parental alienation
- Schedules or suggestions for reevaluation as needed