Parents have strong opinions about what is best for their kids. When divorcing parents disagree regarding a child-related legal concern, the situation can become quite acrimonious. Some parents experience conflict because they both believe that they should have all of the parental responsibilities, including the authority to make decisions about their child’s education, medical care, extracurricular activities, or religion. Other divorcing spouses disagree on who should have the majority of the parenting time or how parenting time should be divided between them.
Serious conflict can also arise when one parent believes that the other parent is not capable of providing a safe home for the child and seeks to have that parent’s parenting time restricted in some way. In situations like this, the court may assign a child custody evaluator to investigate the case and offer a professional recommendation to the court.
What Does a Child Custody Evaluator Do?
Child custody evaluators are usually social workers, therapists, or psychologists. They are trained in recognizing signs of child abuse and neglect, family dynamics, and conflict resolution. As the name implies, a child custody evaluator’s job is to evaluate the circumstances of the conflict and form an objective opinion about what outcome would be best for the child. The evaluator then writes up a report and presents it to the court. The evaluator does not have the final say regarding the case outcome, but it will likely influence the court’s decision heavily.
To gather information and make an informed recommendation to the court, a child custody evaluator may:
- Interview each parent and ask them questions about their parenting style, the family dynamics, and their relationship with the child.
- Review documentation such as police reports, medical records, and school records.
- Interview the child and ask about his or her thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires regarding the case outcome.
- Ask the parents or the child to complete mental health assessments or questionnaires.
- Visit each parent’s home and look for any safety concerns.
- Interview siblings, grandparents, or other family members who are close to the child.
How Should I Handle a Child Custody Evaluation?
It can be uncomfortable to have a stranger asking you questions or snooping around your house. However, it is important to remember that a child custody evaluator is only interested in making sure that the case outcome is in the child’s best interests. Comply with the evaluator’s requests, freely provide information, and treat them with respect during the investigation.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Lawyer
The team at [[title]] are committed to providing high-quality legal representation to parents going through a divorce. If you and your spouse disagree on a child custody-related concern, contact our Wheaton divorce and family law attorneys for help. Call [[phone]] for a free consultation.