What Are Custody Evaluations?
Child custody evaluations are ordered in Florida family law cases where two parents are unable to reach a custody arrangement, with one parent claiming that the other is an unfit parent. In these situations, a judge has discretion to order an evaluation, where a licensed professional will help determine what kind of custody arrangement would be in a child’s best interests. Read on to learn more about Florida custody evaluations and whether one could benefit your own family.
What Does a Custody Evaluation Entail?
In Florida, custody evaluations are conducted by licensed psychologists, who are tasked with interviewing the parents and their child, and in some cases, even neighbors, teachers, friends, and family members. The information they receive from these individuals will help the evaluator determine:
- What type of custody arrangement would be in the child’s best interests;
- Both parties’ parenting capacities; and
- The child’s psychological and developmental needs.
Once the evaluator reaches a conclusion on these issues, then he or she will come up with a recommendation for a potential custody and time-sharing agreement. This opinion will then be given to a judge who will have the ultimate authority to grant custody to one or both parents.
What is Included in the Evaluator’s Final Report?
Custody evaluations contain a lot of information about the family in question, including:
- A summary report of both parents’ backgrounds, positions, and beliefs about their own parenting skills and the skills of their co-parent;
- Summaries of statements made by witnesses, which could include extended family members, teachers, and neighbors;
- Summaries of documents that the evaluator received during the process and that were considered when issuing a recommendation;
- A summary of the results of any psychological tests undertaken by the parents and child and the impact of those results on each party’s ability to parent the child;
- A summary of the information provided by the children; and
- The evaluator’s recommendation for a parenting plan, as well as suggestions for parenting classes and therapy.
While the information contained in an evaluation report will play an important role in a judge’s final decision regarding a parenting plan in a particular case, it is by no means the only information that the court will consider. The judge could, for instance, also use testimony provided in court, medical and school records, and the opinions of other experts in reaching a final decision.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Child Custody Lawyer
Dealing with child custody issues is the most difficult aspect of many divorces, especially when one parent believes that the other is unfit. If you have concerns about your child’s well-being or are being unfairly accused of a lack of fitness by a co-parent, you need the help and support of a child custody lawyer. For help coming up with a parenting plan that is in your own child’s best interests, please reach out to experienced Fort Lauderdale child visitation and time-sharing lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. by calling our office at 954-945-7591 today.