How will a child custody evaluation impact a family law case?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2023 | Custody |

“Best interests of the child” is a term commonly used in a California divorce when there is a custody and parenting time dispute. People might have a vague understanding of what that means, but the court will do whatever it can to ensure the child is in a safe and nurturing atmosphere with everything they need to develop and grow.

In many cases, the parents disagree over who will have custody and the type of arrangements that will be in place. The court might need more information than it is receiving from the parents and what it can deduce through the evidence. With that, it can order a child custody evaluation.

How does a child custody evaluation work?

The best-case scenario with child custody is if the parents can forge their own agreement or are at least flexible in coming to a solution that will benefit the child. When they cannot do so, a child custody evaluator can investigate the circumstances.

There could be a preconceived notion that these are used in cases where there are allegations of abuse, but it can simply be ordered to accrue as much information as possible to make an informed decision. The parents can also request that there be a custody evaluation.

In general, the evaluation will take a minimum of two months. This can delay a divorce that would otherwise be completed relatively quickly and parents should know that beforehand. The evaluator will speak to the parents and the child. It can be jointly or separately. They will often want to observe how the parents and the child interact in a domestic setting.

In addition, they can meet with others who know the parents and the child, look at school and medical records and review documents. Once the investigation is complete, they will write a confidential report giving their assessment and recommendations.

Parents should know their rights with custody evaluations

It is vital to remember that the parents are generally obligated to pay for the custody evaluation, so it could add to the cost of the divorce. Despite that, it can be beneficial not just for the court, but for the parents to be aware of what is best for the child as part of the custody and parenting time agreement. That should be the main goal.