Child Custody Evaluations

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When a couple with minor children decides to divorce, the court maintains a special focus on the children to ensure that decisions regarding custody, visitation, and support are all made in the best interests of the child.

While many parents can make decisions together on where children will live and regarding school, medical care, and other factors, there are some couples that have difficulty coming together on these issues. If parents work with a mediator, but still can’t reach any resolutions, they may need further help from an impartial third party. In North Carolina, this means obtaining child custody evaluations.

If you have questions about child custody or are facing a custody evaluation, contact experienced family law attorney Jonathan Breeden. He will make sure your parental rights are represented and help obtain a positive outcome for your family. Call Breeden Law Offices today at (919) 661-4970.

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What is a Custody Evaluation

Typically, when parents cannot agree in custody cases, a judge will require mediation, where parties work together to develop a mutually acceptable plan with the help of a neutral third party. When mediation fails and parent’s still cannot agree, the court will then order a custody evaluation. This is an official report, prepared by a mental health professional, with special training in family situations, who interviews those involved and makes a recommendation about what custody arrangement would be in the child’s best interest.

Custody evaluations are not legally binding, but judges do give them a lot of consideration in custody disputes.

What Happens During an Evaluation?

The court may appoint an evaluator for your case, or you may be allowed to choose a private one. Evaluators will interview children and parents and will observe their interactions with one another. Often they administer psychological tests to both children and parents and interview third parties, such as teachers or other family members who have been involved in the children’s lives.

Through these interviews and observations, an evaluator can gain important insight into your personalities and the relationships you have with your kids. They will make recommendations for custody and visitation. They may even have helpful advice on how to deal with conflicts between you and your former spouse or other issues that may come up now that you’re parenting after a divorce.

How to Select an Evaluator

Private evaluators can be expensive – sometimes as much as several thousand dollars – so keep in mind that hiring a private evaluator will cost you a significant amount of money. You will have an opportunity to speak with any evaluator before the process begins. Some topics you might want to consider asking about include:

  • Experience – How many cases has the evaluator handled and how diverse were the issues?
  • Education – Does the evaluator have a law degree, Ph.D. in psychology, or other relevant training?
  • Unique Circumstances – If you have special needs children, you may want to know what kind of experience the evaluator has with specific issues. If you live a great distance from the child’s other parent, you may also want to know how the evaluator considers such circumstances.

How a Lawyer Can Help with a Custody Evaluation

Undergoing a child custody evaluation is very stressful for families. Even if you are an exceptional parent, your nervousness may affect your responses. To prevent that from happening and to help prepare your children for the process, it’s best to work with an experienced child custody lawyer.

An attorney can provide tips on how to remain cooperative and engaged with the evaluator because it’s essential to not give the wrong impression. Your attorney can also help prepare you and your children with a list of frequently asked evaluation questions and how to ensure your concerns about custody are properly addressed in the evaluation.

Contact Breeden Law Office

A custody evaluation can be an intimidating process for you and your children. When going through one, it’s best to remain calm and speak honestly without animosity. In a divorce and custody case, you should hire a family law attorney who can be compassionate towards your situation and offer helpful advice about your evaluation report. Attorney Jonathan Breeden of Breeden Law Offices has spent a great deal of his 16 years of experience in the local family courts helping countless residents work through their divorce and custody matters. Call him at (919) 661-4970 today.

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Divorce In North Carolina: What You Need To Know

A book by Jonathan Breeden