Some California divorce cases can be complicated. That is especially challenging when children are caught in the middle. This is common in high-asset cases where the parents have prominent jobs and complex schedules making it harder for the court to gauge how to handle child custody and parenting time.
While it is preferable for the sides to come to an agreement on their own or for the court to weigh the factors of the case and decide on the custody and visitation arrangement, there is a possibility that more information will be needed. In these situations, there could be a child custody evaluation. Understanding this process is imperative.
What should I know about a child custody evaluation?
In a court-ordered child custody evaluation, a mental health professional is appointed to investigate the case. There are several reasons why the judge might want the help of a mental health professional. It could be as simple as wanting an evaluation for more information than what was available from the parents.
The objective is to serve the child’s best interests. To achieve that, the judge could decide that the evaluation is essential. It can also happen if parents request that the evaluation be done. Finally, accusations of abuse might warrant a child custody evaluation.
This can take some time to complete. Generally, it will take a minimum of two months as the evaluator meets with the parents and the child. There could be a need to visit the parents’ home; talk to relatives and other adults who know the family; look at school and medical records; see documents related to accusations that may have been made; and ask the parents to take part in psychological assessments.
With child custody disputes, having legal protection is key
Once the evaluation is complete, the evaluator will write a report that contains recommendations for custody and parenting time. It is vital for parents to remember that the child’s best interests must be priority.
Still, for parents whose professional and personal lives are difficult to navigate, the court may want input from professionals whose training can assess the child and the parents and help with a reasonable decision.
In all child custody and family law cases, it is important to have representation that knows the nuance of high-asset divorce and frequent challenges that come up in these cases. Calling for a consultation and help is crucial.