Custody Evaluation is a court-appointed evaluation with a mental health expert who evaluates a family and makes a recommendation to the courts for custody matters, usually including residential custody, visitation, and the parenting plan.
Most co-parents don’t fully grasp what the custody evaluation is but in general, it is where a mental health professional will talk to and observe you, your spouse, and child/ren together and separate. They will take the information to the court to help decide where the child should live and what visitation should be set.
The most common reason that a custody evaluation is done is that the parents can not come to an agreement on the parenting plan or they may feel that the current parenting plan is not meeting the needs of the child. It can also be done when physical or mental abuse is suspected.
During the evaluation, there will be multiple interviews with the family, observations to see how each parent interacts with the child/ren, interviews could also be conducted with people close with the family, teachers, or doctors. They may also review previous court records regarding the divorce and custody case.
Based on all of the information collected a report will be written and given to the judge to help them determine the best placement for the child/ren involved.
It is important to cooperate with the person doing the evaluation. Answer their questions to the best of your ability. You should treat it like a job interview and be sure to be on time and dress nice but comfortable. Be sure to be prepared ahead of time with any court documents that may be needed.
Be sure to get plenty of rest before the evaluation and don’t coach your child/ren on their answers. Remember this evaluation is done where the purpose is always the best interest of the child/ren.