It may seem that no one can make better decisions for your child than you can. Most of the time that is true, but the court must take steps to ensure it makes the best decision for children. To do that, they may utilize a child custody evaluator or custody expert. This person may be a part of your New Jersey divorce case.

The job of a custody expert like this is to conduct evaluations and then make recommendations on child custody arrangements based on what is best for the child. Most of the time, these professionals are licensed mental health professionals who have expertise in child custody.

If you are faced with the requirement of a child custody expert, allow our family law attorney in New Jersey to help you. At Jersey Coast Family Law, we take pride in supporting our clients by providing them with comprehensive support even through tough periods. Reach out to us for an appointment to discuss your needs.

When a Custody Expert Is Needed

Whenever possible, both parents should try to make decisions in agreement about what is best for their child. As noted, parents tend to be the best people to make those decisions. However, there are times when neither parents do not agree, and in the eyes of the court, the court needs to step in to help. That is where a child custody expert is often necessary. This includes situations such as:

  • Disagreements: In some situations, parents simply cannot agree on custody agreements or parenting time. Though both parents may have equal rights, if no one can compromise, a professional may be necessary.
  • Court involvement: The court may order an evaluation at its discretion if it deems it necessary.

Again, the court’s goal is to make decisions based on the child’s best interests.

  • Complex situations: There are some situations that may be far more complex. In these situations, it becomes critical for a third party who understands a child’s mental health needs to step in and offer insight.

Some examples of the complex situations that may warrant the use of a child custody expert include:

  • Allegations of abuse
  • Domestic violence claims
  • Significant mental health concerns
  • Large disparities in parenting styles

The custody expert’s job here is not necessarily to prove one parent wrong but instead to determine what

is best for the child. That is not a simple decision, and it certainly can be difficult for parents to navigate this process.

The Custody Evaluation Process

Though there can be situations in which the child custody process is a bit more complex or requires additional steps, it is typically a straightforward process. You will be notified when the court recommends a custody expert be involved. Then, a timeline is established, and an appointment is made. You can expect the following in many situations:

  • The custody expert will interview the parents and children. This is often done independently to ensure open communication between all parties.
  • The expert will then review all necessary and relevant documents and concerns. This includes any evidence of claims made or details the court provides.
  • A home visit is sometimes necessary. This depends on the situation and the allegations or disputes involved.

Using all the information obtained from this process, the child custody expert then will make decisions based on what is most important or best for the child – based on what the expert and court believe is best.

Benefits of a Custody Evaluation

Though it can seem very scary and worrisome, there are some benefits to including a child custody expert in child custody cases and divorce proceedings. The primary benefit is that it creates a neutral third party that can provide a better perspective on complex issues. This person does not have any reason to believe or disbelieve any party. They gain insight based on the evidence in the case, allowing them to offer a clear perspective from the best interest of the child’s vantage point.

They also can help in reducing conflict. Because no one is making key decisions, it may be possible to reduce conflict and promote a more amicable resolution. It can also allow the court to receive a professional recommendation it can utilize to make custody decisions with fairness, and, again, with the interests of the child as the primary focus.

Seeking Legal Advice

It is always beneficial to contact and work with an attorney in a matter like this for multiple reasons. Consulting a New Jersey divorce attorney allows you to determine if a custody evaluation is a necessary step in your case and when it may be both warranted and beneficial.

The attorney’s role is to help you navigate this process. Your attorney’s job, then, is about protecting your interests and rights. That ensures that clear information is always provided to all members involved in the decision-making.

Additional Considerations

The cost of custody evaluations can be a factor for some parents. These costs can range from $1,000 to $2,500 and some may be much more.

Also, note that when an evaluation like this must be done, it can cause a delay in the court’s decisionmaking. That may mean that it takes longer for the court to decide on custom matters.

In all situations, as a parent, it is best to be open and honest throughout this process. Ensure that there is ample transparency and cooperation throughout the process, as that typically works in your favor instead of fighting against such an evaluation. Nevertheless, your first step is to contact our legal team to find out how we can help you navigate this process.

Schedule a Consultation with a Family Law Attorney in New Jersey

At Jersey Coast Family Law, our attorneys are here to help you. Set up an appointment with our family law attorneys at our Toms River or Red Bank office. We serve clients throughout the state. Call 732-3614718 for an appointment.

Where Family Comes First