When custodial agreement cannot be reached between the two parties prior to the trial date, a great deal of preparation may be required by the client and the attorney in order to effectively petition the court for custodial rights.
It is very common to seek the professional opinion and testimony of a counselor or therapist that is capable and qualified to perform child evaluations. The evaluator will study the behavior and emotions of the family relationships, and testify in court or at a deposition to explain his or her conclusions.
The members of the family should be aware of the differences between the distinctive roles of the counselor and the evaluator. The evaluator merely studies the family, where as the counselor not only evaluates, but in fact, is charged with the task of providing extensive advice.
An evaluation should never be sought without prior and full consent of both parties. Any subsequent evaluation should also be inclusive of both parents. The evaluation is to determine if a strong, happy, and healthy relationship exists between the child and the parent.
What to expect from a Quality Custody Evaluation:
There should be a mutual agreement on both sides to have an evaluation conducted. To emphasize the importance of this decision, the commitment should be backed by the signature of each person involved.
One side should never be observed and/or evaluated without the other one present, unless previously notified and authorized.
The child should be observed and evaluated on how he or she acts around each parent individually and collectively. The child may also be interviewed privately , but age and maturity always plays a vital role in this decision.