Child custody fights are mentally exhausting. In addition to fears that you won’t see your children, many people are annoyed by how intrusive the whole process can be. “Airing dirty laundry” isn’t just a phrase people use. It accurately describes how exposed and vulnerable many people feel.
In any contested custody case, a judge can order a child custody evaluation to help with the case. What is this evaluation, and is it something you should fear? Our Galveston child custody lawyer provides an overview.
What is a Child Custody Evaluation?
Texas Family Code Section 107.101 is the relevant law. It explains that this evaluation is a court ordered process which attempts to answer questions and make recommendations regarding conservatorship, possession of a child, or other contested issues.
The evaluation will be done by someone qualified under section 107.104. This person will have proper credentials, including education and experience in the human services field. In many situations, it is a social worker or child psychologist who is trusted to provide expert advice regarding children.
Not all custody evaluations are the same; the focus might differ depending on the facts of the case. For example, if there have been allegations of abuse, the evaluator will help the judge determine whether the abuse happened and how it impacted the children. In other cases, an evaluation will focus on how well the child is thriving in the current home. Evaluations can also focus on the child’s special needs, mental health issues, or allegations of unusual parenting.
A child custody evaluation often takes at least three months—though some are completed faster, depending on the issues a judge wants considered. Larger evaluations could take a year or more.
Who Selects the Evaluator?
It depends on the court. If parents can agree on someone, then they can submit the name to the judge. Other judges like to select an evaluator.
How Involved Are Parents in the Evaluation?
Heavily. One major purpose of the evaluation is to see how parents interact with the children. Consequently, you can expect to meet the evaluator and answer questions. The evaluator will probably also want to see you interact with your child.
Evaluators usually interview other people, like teachers or family friends. They also review certain records in many cases, like medical records or school reports.
Can Parents Prepare for the Evaluation?
You should definitely talk about any concerns that you have with your Galveston family law attorney. Some parts of an evaluation might feel intrusive. For example, your spouse might allege you have a mental illness or a drug addiction. You might need to undergo testing or a psychological evaluation. We will discuss what to expect. Unfortunately, if a judge orders an evaluation, it is hard to get out of it—unless you are willing to settle your child custody dispute.
We Have Your Back
Tad Nelson & Associates can represent any parent in a child custody fight. We know the process inside and out and can use it to your advantage. Call or email us to schedule a consultation.