Child Custody Evaluation: Counseling Process & Methods

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

This lesson covers the child custody evaluation, what it is for, why it is needed, and the steps that are carried out by the psychologist and the court.

What is a Child Custody Evaluation For?

During a divorce, spouses may fight about who gets the house, the cars, and the money. Parents may also argue about custody of their children; this is where the child custody evaluation comes in. The court sets up an evaluation to determine which parents should have custody, how much time for each parent, and how well the child is doing in the midst of the divorce itself. This evaluation is not always required, as long as the parents have already come to a custody plan prior to the proceedings. However, if the divorcing parents cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion, the court has to take on this responsibility, which is why the custody evaluation was created.

If during the divorce proceedings one or both of the parents have made assertions of abuse of any sort or neglect, the court may do an even more thorough investigation to make sure the child(ren) is safe.

What is a Child Custody Evaluation?

An evaluation is a process that starts with a court appointed psychologist that is specifically educated in child and family custody issues. The psychologist then reaches out and speaks with the family members, makes observations, and does research about the situation. They have to get consent from the parents and make appointments along the way, so it can take some time. The evaluation can last a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity and the availability of the people being interviewed. Additionally, parents can deny consent to the psychologist, however, then it is taken back to the court, where the judge may require the interviews to be allowed. The steps of the evaluation are as follows:

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