Minnesota Custody Evaluation Attorney
When you and your spouse have been unable to reach an agreement regarding the custody of your children, a custody evaluation may be ordered by the family judge deciding your case.
What is a Custody Evaluation?
A custody evaluation is when a professional from the mental health community, usually a psychologist, evaluates your children, you, and your spouse in order to make a recommendation to the court regarding visitation. The courts can rely heavily upon the recommendation given by the psychologist. A Minnesota custody evaluations lawyer can answer all of your child custody and family law questions, as well as explain custody evaluations to you.
Custody evaluations can cost thousands of dollars, but this cost depends on where you live in Minnesota. Fortunately, some courts do have lower cost alternatives. Although such evaluations are ordered by the court, it is the responsibility of the divorcing couple to pay for the evaluation.
As for who performs the evaluation, the evaluator may be assigned to you by the court or you may be able to choose from a list of evaluators. This list consists of individuals with experience and educational standards the court requires. No matter who the evaluator is or who pays for the service, the evaluator is a neutral individual who does not have any kind of relationship with anyone in the family before or after the evaluation. And keep in mind that nothing that is told to the evaluator is confidential or subject to doctor-patient privilege.
Custody Evaluation Process
You can always speak to your lawyer regarding the process in order to know what to expect. The goal of the evaluator is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. In order to do this, the evaluator must understand the family dynamics by doing the following:
- Conducting interviews with each parent and child
- Observing how each parent interacts with the children in the evaluator’s office and possibly at home
- Psychological testing if necessary
- Review of court papers
- Conducting interviews with doctors, teachers, and day care providers
Once the evaluation process is complete, a report with custody and visitation recommendations will be provided to the court. Most custody evaluators in Minnesota will address concerns raised by each parent. The factors within the report that decide custody and visitation are:
- Apply the best interest factors to make recommendations for custody and parenting time
- The quality of the relationship of each child with each parent
- The willingness of each parent to support the relationship of their children with the other parent
- The capacity and parenting skills of each parent
- The psychological health of each parent and whether or not they abuse drugs or alcohol
- The psychological health of each child
- Any evidence of abuse or violence by the parents
Minneapolis Child Custody Lawyer
To prepare for your custody evaluation in Minnesota, a custody attorney can help. You will need to be organized, answer a lot of questions, show how important your children are to you, and know how to properly respond to the requests of the evaluator. You may also wish to contest the report or the court’s decision. Call us at (612) 294-2200 or in St. Paul at (651) 777-1811.