Family attorneys fight hard for their clients, and they often have to help those clients navigate difficult situations. Perhaps you are divorcing your spouse, and you need help securing your financial future through alimony. Or maybe you are trying to adopt a child who has been the victim of abuse, and you need a lawyer to guide you through the legal process of gaining guardianship. A good family lawyer does not just help their clients navigate the law; they help their clients move forward into better life situations. We appreciate the work these attorneys do, and we have dedicated this blog to spread the word about their profession.
It's not surprising that the main issues tying up divorce settlements are also emotional ones. This issue of children and custody can be particularly troublesome and many parents find that they must fight for the right to retain sole physical custody of their child. It can all come down to what is known as a child custody evaluation so read on and find out the facts.
1. Being able to agree on major issues like child custody can make the entire divorce process a lot less stressful—not to mention less expensive. When you cannot agree on custody, the judge may order that a custody evaluation be performed. The cost of the evaluation is borne by the parents and can cost $1,000–2,500, depending on your area.
2. Custody evaluators are usually in the mental health/social work field and should be certified to perform the specialized evaluations. You may be provided with a list by the courts with some approved evaluation experts listed. You may also have the option to hire a private evaluation expert but they may cost more than those suggested by the court.
3. Depending on your child's age, explain the process them but don't coach them in any way. Keep the information age-appropriate and don't allow any anxiety you might have over the event to transfer to your child.
4. You can expect the evaluation to encompass several interview sessions, both with the child and with each parent separately. In addition, the evaluator may perform psychological testing on the child to help with the evaluation.
5. You may be observed interacting with your child during the evaluation. Playing, especially for younger children, provides a wealth of clues when it comes to a child's feelings about the upcoming divorce and their relationship with each parent. Regardless of the outcome, you will likely come away with valuable information about your child and their state of mental health.
6. The way you speak about your spouse plays a role in how your child deals with divorce so be careful what you say. Use respectful terms, don't bad mouth them, and be the parent that believes in both parents spending as much time as possible with the child. That viewpoint translates well when being evaluated.
7. Take action fast if you notice problems cropping up during the evaluation. You might, for example, discern that the other parent is making false allegations against you that could seriously harm your chances of custody. If you notice anything at all during the evaluation that troubles you, speak to your divorce lawyer at once. You may need to halt the evaluation and switch to another expert. Waiting until the judge gets the report may be too late.
Child custody evaluations are a serious matter and deserve expert legal advice. Speak to your divorce lawyer about custody issues at once.