What Is a Child Custody Evaluation?
New Jersey Child Custody Evaluations
In New Jersey, as in all states, the parents of minor children of divorce can work out their own custody agreements based on the best interests of the children. If you and your ex-spouse are unable to do so, however, and the court becomes involved, the court may order a child custody evaluation. What does that look like? Must the judge follow the recommendations of the evaluator? This blog post offers an overview of the child custody evaluation process in New Jersey. To further discuss your questions or concerns, contact Lyons & Associates by online or call us at 908-575-9777.
The Child Custody Evaluation Process in New Jersey
The court will only seek the opinion of a child custody evaluator when the parents are unable to agree on physical and legal custody, or the terms of visitation or if a Judge sees something present like drugs or domestic violence that the Court believes could jeopardize the child’s best interests. The evaluator is typically a mental health professional, such a psychologist or family therapist. Once retained, the evaluator will conduct interviews with all relevant parties, including parents, children, school officials, doctors and others. As a parent, you will likely undergo a psychological examination, and the evaluator will prepare a psychological profile.
The evaluation can be extensive, including an evaluation of:
- The ability of the parents to work cooperatively in the best interests of the child
- The respective parenting skills of each parent
- The psychological health of each parent, as well as of the children
- Any evidence of domestic abuse or violence
- Any evidence of substance abuse
Based on all the information gathered, the evaluator will make a written recommendation to the court regarding who should have custody and how visitation should take place, all based on the best interests of the child. Though the judge always has discretion to make a ruling based on his or her perception of the best interests of the child, for all practical purposes, the judge often concurs with the child custody evaluator. The decision can become more complex if there are more than one custody evaluation.
Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates
At Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to men and women in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.