When two parents divorce or separate, it is not just their interests and rights that must be protected — the rights and well-being of their children must also be considered. In fact, the interest of the child often takes precedence in divorce cases. While some spouses are able to create and/or agree to a child custody and/or parenting plan, others experience many significant challenges. In such a case, participation in a child custody evaluation may be necessary and beneficial. Hollywood child custody lawyers can help you understand everything there is to know about child custody evaluations in Florida.
Child Custody Evaluations in Florida
A child custody evaluation is a process in which an evaluator (usually a psychologist) examines a family in order to make recommendations on parenting and custody plans that meet the family’s unique needs. Child custody evaluations are especially common in cases regarding domestic violence, substance abuse, and neglect; however, they are still used among families who are simply unable to agree to a parenting plan. A family law attorney can help you prepare for the child custody evaluation process.
What to Expect During the Child Custody Evaluation Process
During the child custody evaluation, parents should expect for the evaluator to gather as much information about the family and the needs of the child as possible. This can be achieved through interviews with both parents, the children, and others who may have close contact with the child on a regular basis (such as teachers, babysitters, doctors, etc.). Evaluators may also observe your family interactions through conversations, common behaviors, activities, and feelings expressed. At the completion of the evaluation process, the evaluator will provide a written report of a recommended custody and/or parenting plan that fits the needs of your family’s circumstances.
It is important to understand that the evaluator attempts to obtain as much information about the family as possible. Everything that is observed will be utilized to create a suitable parenting plan for the child(ren) involved. Therefore, families should expect to be as open and authentic as possible. Parents should encourage their child(ren) to be honest with the evaluator, and they should resist the urge to try and appear perfect. Failure to behave with a sense of normalcy around an evaluator may result in a mandated custody/parenting plan that does not fit the needs of the child or the family as a whole.
How to Choose An Evaluator
A child support lawyer in Hollywood, FL, can help you choose an evaluator, or you may be assigned one by a judge. The cost of the services that child custody evaluators provide often range from $2,000 to $6,000. While this is an expensive service, parents should understand that it is best to select evaluators who have strong records of experience with the specific issues of your child and/or your concerns. Your child(ren) will benefit the most from a well-trained and experienced child custody evaluator who understands the needs and circumstances of the child(ren). Therefore, parents should expect to be flexible.
Are Child Custody Evaluations Confidential?
No. Typically, information that is shared with psychologists is confidential and such specialists have a legal obligation to avoid releasing the information. However, child custody evaluations serve the purpose of arranging child custody and/or parenting plan, which requires family courts and lawyers to have access to the findings.
Child Custody & Support Lawyers in Hollywood, FL
Child support lawyers in Hollywood can help you prepare and understand the child custody evaluation process and how the financial, emotional, developmental, educational and health needs of the child will be determined to create a plan for you.
At the Law Offices of Theodore H. Enfield, P.A., our experienced Hollywood divorce lawyers can help you achieve this and answer the concerns to all of your family concerns.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.