When you’re fighting over child custody matters, you can quickly find yourself in a he-said, she-said situation, with each parent thinking that he or she knows what’s best for the child. This can be confusing for a judge, who is ultimately going to make child custody decisions if you and your child’s other spouse can’t reach a settlement on your own.
This is why it’s oftentimes beneficial to have the assistance of expert witnesses who can help support your position. A child psychologist, for example, may be able to provide valuable insight into your child’s needs and wishes, and how best to meet those.
Child custody evaluations in North Carolina
One way that child psychologists are used is in the child custody evaluation process. Here, the psychologist conducts a comprehensive analysis of the child, the parents, and other factors that may be relevant to the court’s determination. The evaluation results in a formal report that is submitted to the court, identifying the child’s needs, each parent’s parenting style, and each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs.
What goes into a child custody evaluation?
There’s a lot that can go into one of these evaluations, as can be seen from this sample court order. The psychologist may conduct personality testing on the parents, and he or she will likely interview the child if he or she is old enough. Medical and schooling records may be reviewed, and the home environment of each parent may be assessed. Remember, the evaluator is trying to determine what the child really needs to be healthy and happy. Therefore, if your child suffers from anxiety or depression, then the evaluator is going to consider which home is more capable of providing the child with stability, attention, and appropriate medical care.
What kind of recommendations come out of a child custody evaluation?
There can be a number of recommendations made in an evaluator’s report. It may clearly recommend sole physical custody with one parent, or it may make recommendations for ongoing care and treatment of your child’s medical needs.
The recommendations can involve what may seem like minor details, too. For example, an evaluator’s report might recommend that the child speak to the non-custodial parent a certain number of days out of the week. Or it may recommend a parenting coordinator who can assist with scheduling and resolving minor disputes. In other words, the child custody evaluator can make recommendations that touch on every aspect of your child custody arrangement.
What will the court do with the report?
Courts tend to rely heavily on child custody evaluations and the recommendations contained within them. Judges view the psychologists who perform them as skilled and unbiased. Therefore, if the report comes back with recommendations that you don’t support, then you need to be prepared to counter the report with your own arguments, which may require assistance from your own expert witness.
Do you need legal assistance with your child custody dispute?
Child custody disputes can be heart-wrenching. And you may feel like the deck is stacked against you when a child custody evaluation is ordered. However, there are steps that you can take to prepare for the evaluation, and even if the recommendations that come back are not favorable to your position, there are actions that you can take to minimize their impact. If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate this delicate aspect of your child custody dispute, then now may be the time to reach out to a legal professional who is skilled in this area of the law.