Should You Use A Custody Evaluator During Your Divorce?

When parents decide to divorce, one of the most important things to consider is child custody. While many divorced couples are able to deal with this without the input of outside resources, some are simply unable to be amicable when making these decisions. The court then has to get involved when satisfying custody arrangements cannot be made. If you want to avoid the entire courtroom drama that goes along with a custody hearing, you could ask your family law attorney about a custody evaluation. There are some things to keep in mind if you are considering this option:

Who Will Evaluate the Situation?

Custody evaluators are assigned by the judge overseeing your custody arrangements. You may be presented with a selection of evaluators, but you would have to work together to choose one. Your respective attorneys also have to agree. If for some reason one or more of the parties involved cannot come to an agreement on an evaluator, you can opt to pay a private evaluator that everyone can agree on.

What Happens During a Custody Evaluation?

After the evaluator has been chosen, several wheels will begin turning. Both parents are initially interviewed by the evaluator. In some instances, the kids may be interviewed as well. He or she will then spend some time observing the kids and each parent individually as they interact. Based on the findings, in addition to other evidence from the court, the evaluator will write a report on the findings and provide a recommendation as to how custody should be handled.

What Will Be Included in the Evaluator's Report?

Each parent will receive a copy of the report. In the report, you will see the ideas the evaluator has about your custody situation. He or she will make a recommendation based on the needs of the family and suggest different therapies if it is warranted. Any problematic behaviors, including lack of attention or signs of substance abuse, will also be noted. Finally, the evaluator will provide a suggestion as to how custody should be arranged based on what is best for the children.  

It is important to note that an evaluator's recommendations are not a court order. You are not tied to his or her decision regarding your custody arrangements. An evaluator is simply a neutral party with verified credentials that have the skills and knowledge to help determine what would be best for a family. Once the evaluation is over, you can either opt to take it to court and have it entered into your divorce decree, or you can scrap it and continue to negotiate.