As we continue to discuss the Child Custody Evaluation, it is important to discuss the impact of the Child Custody Evaluation on your family life, and conversely the impact your family life can have on the ongoing Child Custody Evaluation.
Basic Elements of the Evaluation
An evaluation involves collecting, managing, and analyzing a large quantity of information about the family. A private professional will often spend at least 25 to 50 hours on interviews, testing, and other data collection, spread out over a long period of time, before writing the report and formulating the final recommendations.
While each evaluator has an individual method, procedure, and style, all evaluations usually include a number of basic elements. The basic elements of a Child Custody Evaluation include the following:
- Individual interviews of each parent;
- Interviews of each child;
- Interviews of each child with each parent;
- Home visit to each parent’s home;
- Review of various documents submitted by counsel and each parent;
- Interviews of collateral contacts in the community proposed by each parent or as requested by the evaluator; and
- Psychological testing of parents and children.
Your Ongoing Family Life Influences Case Throughout Evaluation Process
The evaluation is a study of the family, focused both on past history and relationships and the ongoing lives of the parents and children over a period of several weeks or months. See Fam C §§3110-3118.
Often events that occur during the evaluation become material for the evaluator’s investigation, and guidance from an attorney or other involved professionals (such as your therapist) will help handle the situation appropriately.
You Will Be Placed Under Intense Scrutiny for a Prolonged Time Period
A Child Custody Evaluation can frequently take up to 6 months from the time the evaluator is formally appointed until the report is issued. During that time, you will be placed under intense scrutiny and held to the standard of good parenting. You may feel this standard is too high or unreasonable when others in the community who are not involved in a custody case may parent their children in questionable ways without consequence. You will be experiencing life under a microscope and must understand the importance of exercising good judgment at all times despite the intrusion of the evaluation in his or her family’s life.
At Divorce Helpline we can coach you through the intricasies of the Child Custody Evaluation. We also work with well-known California Child Custody Evaluators and routinely arrange and manage friendly Child Custody Evaluations for our Divorce Helpline clients who would benefit from the process.