What Happens During a New Jersey Child Custody Evaluation?
If a previous custody resolution process like an assessment or mediation yields no solution, the court may order a full child custody evaluation at the parents’ expense. Parents may agree to a single evaluator or each retain their own separately, and the court may also order a neutral evaluator.
Depending on the severity of the accusations against a parent, the level of acrimony between parents, and other factors, the truth can be difficult to see. If at any time the child’s safety or the parents’ truthfulness are in doubt, the court may appoint a specialized guardian to your child.
- Law guardian: A barred NJ attorney, assigned by the court to directly represent, express the wishes, and protect the interests of a child exposed to abuse, neglect, or terminating parental rights. This is usually done in child and neglect cases such as those brought by DCPP.
- Guardian ad litem (GAL): Investigates custody and visitation, and makes recommendations to the judge and the court that represent the child’s best interests. Appointed either by a parent’s request or a motion of the court in cases contesting custody, visitation, or parenting time. Unlike law guardians, GALs don’t directly represent the child, but serve the court.
Child custody evaluators are professional mental health experts like specialized psychiatrists, trained and qualified social workers, or psychologists who provide medical recommendations based on testing and interviews. Evaluators must conduct unbiased evaluations in the child’s best interest, and each has a slightly different methodology to evaluate custody eligibility or to determine an unfit parent.
When deciding custody, NJ family courts rely heavily on evaluator reports, made up of:
- Up to three interviews with each parent and child
- Observations of parent/child interactions
- Interviews and/or statements from professionals/experts who interact with children
What is included in a NJ child custody evaluator report?
- Relevant facts and family history
- Custody arrangement recommendations
- Suggested custody arrangement and parenting time schedule
Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW any time to discuss your case
If you are facing a custody evaluation, consider hiring a family law attorney. Fighting a custody battle is exhausting, but losing one is worse. Learn the most effective tactics to counteract a poor custody evaluation by working with the dedicated firm of lawyers at the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq. Call us any time at 1-855-9-JEFLAW and we’ll take on your legal foes.
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