[I]f you are not seeking sole custody of your child—a situation DGC believes you should pursue, and you are settling out of court, then you have to determine how you and the mother will divide time with your child. Even under the best of circumstances, this is an emotional decision. While its best if parents handle this issue themselves, or at least with a mediator or attorneys, that’s not always possible.

Why Some Courts Use a Child Custody Evaluation

Sometimes, allegations of spousal abuse, neglect, or substance abuse may require a court to make the final determinations. If serious allegations or problems arise, the entire family may be referred to child custody evaluation. Usually, the entire family will then be referred for child custody evaluation. Typically, the results are presented to the court to determine the most suitable custody and parenting arrangement.

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The child custody evaluator should be court-appointed, so that theoretically anyway, both sides will get a fair hearing.

It’s a tremendously stressful time for families, since neither parent knows what to expect and the stakes are tremendously high. (Read “How to Prepare for a Court Appointed Social Study” for more information.)

“Angst points” include: will my Ex try and sabotage me? How do I make the best impression?

What about the ill-effects on my child? How should I respond to his/her questions about the proceedings? The decision will greatly affect the child’s future, but how much should I limit it?

Who Gets Interviewed During a Child Custody Evaluation?

A child custody evaluation should begin with a court-appointed psychologist to assess all family members. This may also include evaluating a stepparent, fiancé, or live-in partner. The psychologist will interview both parents, alone and/or together, and each child who is of the appropriate age/maturity level. Each parent interview should cover the same general topics. During the interview, parents should discuss their concerns regarding the children and the other parent. They should also provide information regarding child custody and parenting time. Finally, if one parent makes a serious allegation against the other one, the accused get the opportunity to respond.

In my court case, the opinion of the child custody evaluation pretty much determined my gaining full custody. So it is something that should be taken very seriously and requires practice.

What feedback would you give regarding your child custody evaluation?

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