Child custody evaluations are an objective, professional evaluation of factors that relate to effective parenting and co-parenting relationships. They are typically performed when custody between divorcing or non-married separated parents is contested. A judge may order a child custody evaluation, or one or both parties may ask for one to aid in determining what custodial situation is best suited for the child(ren).
Child custody evaluators protect the best interests of the child(ren) involved, and do not work for any one attorney or any one parent, even if they are hired by one attorney or parent in particular. Their recommendations are based on comprehensive evaluations including, but not limited to:
- Background checks of both parents
- Multiple interviews with both parents
- Interviews with current partners or spouses of both parents
- Interviews with children age 6 or older
- Home visits with each parent
- Observation with each parent and the child(ren)
- Psychological assessments
- Interviews with collateral contacts (such as family members, school staff, employers, etc.)
- Review of records pertinent to case information
Information is compiled into a written report and made available to all attorneys and judges involved in the case. Child custody evaluators may recommend shared parenting, joint custody, sole custody with visitation, sole custody with supervised visitation, or other variations of custody as necessitated by extenuating circumstances. Judges are not bound to follow the recommendations of a child custody evaluation, but take this information into careful consideration.
If you are interested in participating in a child custody evaluation or would like to know more about the process, contact us today!
Holly Garrett is a child custody evaluator for the 6th Judicial Circuit.