Child Custody Evaluations in Utah
Going through a child custody evaluation is stressful for any parent. Many aspects of your child’s future — including living arrangements, level of access for each parent and responsibility for making major decisions — can depend on the evaluation process.
Preparation and knowledge are the best antidotes to stress. Complete the form on this page to take advantage of a free 30 minute consultation. Work with a reputable, knowledgeable child custody evaluation attorney to ensure that you understand the basics of the evaluation process in Utah.
What is a Child Custody Evaluation?
Utah courts use custody evaluations to make decisions about children’s best interests during custody disputes. Such evaluations sometimes are necessary in divorces but may occur in other situations, such as with parents who have never been married and may not have lived together. Custody disputes also can arise after years of co-parenting, for instance, if one parent needs to move for employment reasons.
Child custody evaluations provide Utah courts with the information needed to make decisions about where and with whom a child will live, who will make decisions in the child’s life, whether custody will be sole or joint, what the level of access for each parent will be, and other details.
The evaluations are conducted by court-appointed evaluators — psychologists, social workers, physicians or licensed counselors — who gather information through interviews, home visits, psychological testing and other means. As court-appointed evaluators, these professionals are not working for either side but are the court’s experts tasked with the responsibility of advising the court on what is in the best interests of the child.
Utah courts stipulate that child custody evaluators must consider the following factors in their recommendations:
- The preferences of the child.
- Emotional stability and moral character of parents or guardians.
- A need to keep siblings together.
- The child’s bond with either of the parents.
- Ability to provide for the child’s care.
- Religious compatibility.
- Desire for custody by both parents.
- Reasons a parent might not function as a caretaker, including drug abuse.
- Financial status.
- Any evidence of abuse.
- Additional factors the evaluator, the courts or the involved parties believe are important.
How an Attorney Can Help You Prepare for a Child Custody Evaluation
Although a child custody evaluation can be stressful, you don’t have to go through it alone. A good evaluation incorporates multiple sources and methods for gathering information, including:
- Developmental histories.
- Personal interviews.
- Parent-child observation.
- Medical records.
- Psychological testing of both parents and children.
- Psychological, school and legal records.
- Documentation of home life, including photos, videos and sound recordings.
- Interviews with neighbors, teachers, babysitters, step-parents and others.
Although an evaluator likely will not place too much weight on any individual piece of information, you will spend significant time preparing the information requested. A knowledgeable attorney can assist you with getting physically prepared for the evaluation by gathering important documents like school and medical records, activity calendars, testimonial letters and others.
Child Custody Evaluation Attorney Salt Lake City, Utah
During your child custody evaluation, it’s important to treat your evaluator with the utmost respect and approach the process like a job interview. Be friendly, smile and work to emphasize the positive. Your attorney will coach you not to view the psychologist as a confidante and to understand that any information provided is not private. Stick to the facts when commenting and allow the evaluator to reach her own conclusions.
When you work with Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law PC, you have understanding, knowledgeable and compassionate advocates on your side. We understand the complexities of divorce, including the complicated emotional issues involved. We help arm you with the knowledge and information you need to make important decisions in your life, and we work with you on an individual basis to ensure that you learn about your legal rights in any given situation. For a free consultation to discuss your case, call (801) 803-6988 or visit our website to fill out our contact form. We’re here to help you every step of the way.