Child Custody Evaluation

New Jersey Child Custody Dispute Resolution Process

Child custody disputes that can not be resolved by the parents or other involved family members will end up in front of a New Jersey Family Court Judge. This more often than not means that the dispute will be entered into the New Jersey Custody and Parenting Time Mediation Program. In this resolution process a neutral third party mediator assists the disputing couple in reaching a compromise agreement concerning the custody of their child and available parenting time. Both parents are given an opportunity to have input into the development of a mutually agreeable custody plan.

Using an impartial mediator in an attempt to resolve a custody dispute is no guarantee of a successful resolution. When parents are still unable to agree on a custody plan that works for both parties, while retaining the focus of being in the childs best interest, additional steps may be needed.

New Jersey Custody Neutral Assessment
A Custody Neutral Assessments is intended to identify the issues that are preventing a parental agreement on custody from being reached. The Custody Neutral Assessment by itself does not produce a custody recommendation. It’s purpose is to identify¬†the problems and recommend additional action that may be beneficial in resolving a custody dispute. The assessment is usually performed by a qualifies social worker or Psychologists.

New Jersey Child Risk Assessment
If the inability to agree on a custody plan also involves accusations of behavioral problems or unsafe environment that one parent believes may have an adverse effect on the child, a visitation risk assessment may be ordered. Allegations of parental alienation are common in these cases. The Risk Assessment is intended to determine whether there is evidence for recommending supervised visitation.

New Jersey Child Custody Evaluation
When the custody resolution processes listed above have been exhausted without a successful resolution, a full Child Custody Evaluation may be ordered by the court. A child custody evaluation is conducted by a mental health expert. The evaluation process may involve several additional experts such as a specializing Psychiatrist or Psychologist whom may provide a medically based recommendation based on testing and interviews.

  • Each parent may retain a separate evaluator or they may agree to a single evaluator.
  • The Court may also order a neutral evaluator.
  • The evaluator is obligated to conduct an unbiased evaluation in the best interest of the child.
  • The child custody evaluator is a mental health expert such as a psychologist.

What happens during a New Jersey Child Custody Evaluation?

Child custody evaluations can be done by trained and qualified social workers, mental health professional or Psychologists. Each may have a slightly different method or process for evaluating child custody eligibility. New Jersey family courts rely heavily on the reports provided by the evaluators when making child custody decisions.

  1. Up to three interview of both parents.
  2. Interview of child or children up to three times.
  3. Observation of parent child interactions.
  4. Interviews with professionals that interact children.

Preparing For A Custody Evaluation

  • Arrive early and dress neatly
  • Be open and honest when answering question
  • Speak clearly and directly to the evaluator
  • Listen carefully so to fully understand the questioning
  • Try to relax and be yourself

What is included in a NJ Child Custody Evaluator Report?

  1. Family history of relevant facts
  2. Custody arrangement recommendation
  3. Suggested custody arrangement and parenting time schedule.
  4. If there are two experts with conflicting recommendations a trial may be needed to decide the custody and a parenting time schedule.



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