Dealing with a child custody dispute can be enormously stressful. It oftentimes involves allegations of parental unfitness, which may include accusations of substance abuse, domestic violence, and verbal or physical abuse. When these matters can’t be settled through negotiation, child custody, also known as a parenting plan, decisions are left in the hands of a judge who really doesn’t know the family before him or her. As a result, the judge is usually confronted with a he-said, she-said situation that is difficult to decipher in furtherance of the child’s best interests.
The Child Custody Evaluation
This is why the courts usually order a child custody evaluation to occur. The purpose of the evaluation is to obtain an unbiased report on each parent’s ability to care for the child, as well as the child’s relationship with each parent. As such, the individual who conducts the child custody evaluation, usually some sort of mental health professional, has broad authority to evaluate the family before him or her. Oftentimes extensive mental health testing is performed, records are reviewed, and parent-child interactions are observed.
You Don’t Have to Agree with the Outcome of a Child Custody Evaluation
Although a child custody evaluation takes a long time to conduct and results in a written report that is submitted to the court, you don’t have to agree with the recommendations that are contained within the report. But in order to effectively challenge those recommendations you’ll have to have evidence to present. One option may be to secure an expert of your own to conduct an evaluation, which could result in a different outcome.
Seeking Help with Child Custody Evaluation Issues
It can be stressful knowing that you’re parenting abilities are being evaluated by a mental health professional. It can also be worrisome to see recommendations from that professional that are counter to what you want for your child. Fortunately, a family law attorney who is resourceful and experienced in child custody matters might be able to help you prepare for your evaluation and craft compelling arguments in furtherance of your position. If you’d like to learn more about what a legal professional can do for you, think about reaching out to an attorney of your choosing.