A child custody evaluation is an informative tool that will help the courts establish the proper custody for children involved in the court system, whether due to a divorce, or death of a current guardian. Child custody is often worked out between two divorcing parties, but if that is not possible in mediation, then a Utah child custody evaluation will establish child custody for the feuding parents. Preparing for the evaluation can take some time, and it is important to be as prepared as possible when it comes time to meet with the evaluator.

What is a Child Custody Evaluation?

A custody evaluation determines who will get physical and legal custody of the children in question. The evaluation is completed by a licensed professional, and they will determine what type of custody will serve the children involved in the dispute in the most complete way. Custody can be shared, or joint, or one parent may be awarded full or sole custody of the children.

What does the Child Custody Evaluation Process Look Like?

The process varies between evaluators, but for the most part you can expect:

  • Several private interviews with the evaluator for both you and the other parent.
  • Several individual interviews for any children involved.
  • Visit observations between you and your children.
  • Calls with therapists, teachers and physicians who treat your children.
  • A court file review.

Who Conducts the Child Custody Evaluation?

Custody evaluations are completed by licensed professionals in your area, especially those that deal with child custody issues. An evaluator may hold an advanced degree in psychology, social work, or counseling, or have an abundance of experience completing custody evaluations under supervision.

Who Pays for the Child Custody Evaluation?

Who pays for the custody evaluation will depend on who is demanding the custody evaluation. If both parents are in dispute as to who should be the primary custodian of the children, then both parents will likely share the costs associated with the evaluation. If one party was the primary breadwinner and the couple has recently split up, the person who makes more money may be responsible for paying for a higher percentage of the evaluation.

What is a Psychological Assessment?

A psychological assessment is another tool designed to determine the level of emotional fitness of the individual being tested. In the case of establishing custody, this assessment can be used to determine if an individual is fit to parent their children as needed.

What is the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem assigned by the court is a person who is there to determine where the children involved in a custody dispute would thrive the most. This guardian ad litem may complete the custody assessment, or they may be responsible for writing an additional report to the court regarding parental fitness. A guardian ad litem can have a variety of roles within the court system, and with child custody disputes, it is often the guardian ad litem who acts as the voice of the child.

Why Should a Parent Cooperate with the Custody Evaluation?

A custody evaluation is your chance to prove to the courts that you are a viable custodian for your children. A failure to cooperate with the evaluation will not look good for you. You want to show the courts that you are a reasonable, responsible and capable parent, which will not be apparent if you don’t cooperate with the evaluator. You can contest the decision of the court if it is not in your favor, however, the courts will not likely make a modification without a good reason.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have questions regarding the court system and child custody evaluation issues, contact Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law PC, for a free legal evaluation. Our Utah family law attorneys will help you work through your concerns, and guide you on the right path to obtaining custody of your children.

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