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What is a Custody Evaluation and What Should I Do if A Court Orders One? 

 Posted on January 11, 2023 in Child Custody

Collin County Child Custody LawyerParents frequently disagree about how to resolve matters related to child custody in a divorce, but sometimes these conflicts can become extreme. This is especially true when there are allegations of abuse or neglect from one or both parties. Getting to the truth can be difficult, and judges may be unsure of the best outcome for a particular case. When this happens, a common solution is for a judge to appoint a professional known as a “child custody evaluator” to a particular case. If you are involved in a court dispute over your minor children, whether during or after divorce, and a custody evaluator has been assigned to your case, it is important to understand the role of this professional and how you should behave to optimize your case’s outcome. 

What is a Custody Evaluator? 

A custody evaluator is a mental health professional who is also sometimes an attorney. Her job is to gather as much information as possible about a particular case. In order to get the information she needs, she can do the following: 

  • Complete psychological evaluations of both parents, their romantic partners (if applicable), and all children 

  • Follow up on accusations of child and spousal abuse

  • Interview teachers, doctors, and other adults involved in the child’s life 

  • Gather any relevant records, including report cards, medical records, etc.

  • Determine whether the child has any special needs that need further addressing 

  • Conduct home visits during which the evaluator will observe the parents’ interactions with the children, as well as how the children behave at home

Once the evaluator has collected the information she feels she needs, she will make a recommendation to the judge about the parents’ strengths and weaknesses, the home environment of each parent, and the best interests of the child. While judges are not legally bound to follow the evaluator’s recommendation, it often plays a major role in the judge’s final decision. 

What Should I Do if a Custody Evaluator Has Been Assigned to My Case? 

The first thing you should know is that custody evaluators are fairly routine and that there is no need to panic. Their job is to try to determine what is in the best interests of your child in a non-biased way, and your behavior can have a major impact on their ultimate determination. 

This makes it very important to work cooperatively with the custody evaluator assigned to your case, even if you personally do not like her. Feeling suspicious or targeted is a natural reaction from many parents, but it is necessary to maintain neutrality yourself and show that you are fundamentally interested in the best interests of your child. Be polite and forthcoming and do not try to drastically improve conditions in your home or hide things you might be ashamed of. Custody evaluators are often very experienced and will be on the lookout for signs that something is not quite right (in one famous example, a child whispered to the custody evaluator that the clean, well-organized home they were staying in was not actually the family’s home and was a short-term rental). 

Contact a Collin County Child Custody Dispute Lawyer

Although a child custody evaluator is theoretically neutral and will not take sides in your custody dispute, it is essential to have an experienced McKinney, TX child custody attorney on your team. The Ramage Law Group’s team of seasoned family lawyers will fight to protect your parental rights, your child’s rights, and the truth during every step of the custody dispute. Call our offices today at 972-562-9890 to schedule a confidential consultation. 




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