Decatur Family Law and Probate Attorney

What to know about a Texas child custody evaluation

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Divorce

Child custody disputes can be complex. In many instances, the court struggles to determine what sort of arrangement is in the child’s best interests because the parents present contradictory evidence. In these circumstances, the court might order a child custody evaluation in order to obtain an unbiased third-party opinion on parenting abilities and a clear recommendation on custody and visitation. The judge gives a lot of weight to these recommendations, so the outcome can be critical to your case.

Who conducts the evaluation?

Child custody evaluators are usually mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, or social workers. These individuals have experience working with children and families, and they must be approved by the court before they can conduct an evaluation.

What does the evaluation entail?

A child custody evaluation is meant to be thorough. Therefore, the evaluator will interview the parents, the child, and other individuals who are involved in the child’s life, such as other family members, friends, and school personnel. The evaluator will also likely observe parenting time, and they’ll probably review relevant medical, mental health, and schooling records. They may even conduct psychological assessments to gain a better sense of the child’s needs and the parents’ capabilities.

Although the evaluator has a lot of leeway in how the evaluation is conducted, the court can issue an order that restricts what the evaluator can do.

Can you challenge a child custody evaluation?

Yes. Although it can be difficult, you might be able to highlight biases in the evaluator’s methodology, or you might be able to present extrinsic evidence that the evaluator was unaware of at the time they conducted their assessment.

So, although you’ll want to be cooperative during the evaluation process and present yourself as best as possible, take comfort in knowing that the child custody evaluation is just one tool the court can use to decide on child custody matters.