Today, when a couple decides to depart ways, the impact that it has on the family can be far-reaching. Aside from dad and mom living in separate homes, the kids are affected by the results of this wreckage too. In some cases, the break up of the marriage may be amicable, and both parties can agree on the custody of the children. In others, the kids may be a sore topic between both and the fight will have just begun.
Unfortunately, when this occurs, the choice between the two parents may be left in the hand of a judge to decide what is what. In order for the judge to make the appropriate decision, he or she can order a forensic custody evaluation.
So, what is a custody evaluation?
A forensic custody evaluation is usually done for at least one of two reasons. The judge will order it to be done in a custody battle or both spouses can agree to it. In either case, the intent of this custody evaluation is to gather the appropriate information so that it can be assessed appropriately.
Who does the Evaluation?
This evaluation cannot be done by just anyone. Based on the law, a mental health professional is called into the process to complete it for the judge. This individual must have the expertise and training that is required so this person must hold the title of a custody evaluator.
A custody evaluator is normally a psychologist that will gather the information needed and then provide it to the judge, with recommendations. In some situations, the judge may order another alternative to the custody evaluator by appointing a guardian ad litem.
The guardian ad litem is an attorney that will be functioning in the role of representing the child or children. Whether the judge appoints the custody evaluator or a guardian ad litem, the process that the parents and others associated with the care will often be pretty much the same or very similar.
Who is Responsible for Choosing the Custody Evaluator?
The responsibility for choosing the custody evaluator usually lies in the hands of the judge that oversees the case. He or she may decide to make an assignment themselves by giving them a specific person. Or, the judge may provide the couple with at least 2 to 3 options to make their choices from. When this is the case, the couple will have a chance to review the evaluators and then recommend a specific custody evaluator to take on this role.
It is important to note that many judges seek to ensure all involved are relatively comfortable with the decision that has been made. For instance, the custody evaluator may have a lot of experience in functioning in the role and they can use their experience to make good recommendations. On the other hand, the custody evaluator may be known for preferring one spouse over another. So, this is also a reason for this person to be one that will be fair and impartial with their recommendations to the court.
What Does it Entail?
The information that the custody evaluator can be quite lengthy and exhaustive so it is essential the parents know what this process entails before entering into it. For instance, as the couple enters the process, they will be provided with the fees that will need to be covered. Typically, the cost of these fees is much lower when the court assigns a specific custody evaluator.
So, the couple should be prepared to pay an amount that can range from one thousand to twenty-five hundred dollars. For a private custody evaluator assessment, the price tag can go as high as ten thousand dollars and more. Also, here is a brief overview of some of the activities required and who will be involved.
– custody evaluator may request to interview both spouse 3 times
– custody evaluator may interview the children 1 to 2 times
– Custody evaluator gathers info from numerous sources including witnesses, doctors, caregivers, and therapists
– Custody evaluator may use specific psychological testing for the children and the parents if necessary
A custody evaluation is a legal process that must be completed to determine which parent gets custody of the children. It is completed by a custody evaluator who has the expertise of a psychologist. The information that they collect from their interviews is submitted to the judge with recommendations.