What Is the Role of a Child Custody Evaluator?

What Is the Role of a Child Custody Evaluator?As divorcing parents navigate the stressful process of child custody evaluations, they may find themselves facing a range of emotions. These evaluations involve an in-depth analysis of the parents and their child, with the goal of determining the best custody arrangement. Tennessee mandates custody evaluations when parents can’t agree on how custody is parsed or when one parent has concerns about the other’s ability to care for the child.

If you’re involved in a custody evaluation, we know it can be difficult to accept an unfavorable outcome, and we are here to help you avoid one.

What is a child custody evaluation?

Generally speaking, it is a process that helps a court determine the best custody arrangement for a child.

During this process, the evaluator will gather information about the child’s relationship with each parent, the parenting skills of each parent, and the child’s overall well-being. This information is then used to develop a custody recommendation for the court.

Who conducts a child custody evaluation?

In Franklin, Tennessee, child custody evaluations are typically conducted by licensed mental health professionals. These professionals are often psychologists or social workers who have specialized training in child development, family dynamics and custody evaluations.

The court will usually appoint an evaluator or give the parties a list of approved evaluators to choose from. It’s important to note that the evaluator should be impartial and not have any prior relationship with either parent or the child.

Under Tennessee law, a judge may order a child custody evaluation to be conducted by a court-appointed guardian ad litem if they deem it necessary for the child’s best interest. A guardian ad litem, as per Tennessee law code § 34-1-107, is responsible for representing the child’s best interests during the legal proceedings and providing recommendations to the court based on their findings.

If appointed, a guardian ad litem will provide a detailed description of the parent’s physical or mental condition that may impact their ability to perform the myriad parenting duties necessary to properly support their child. With their findings, the guardian ad litem can assess and provide valuable insights that can aid in making a fair and informed decision regarding the child’s custody.

When are child custody evaluations conducted?

Child custody evaluations are conducted in situations where parents are unable to reach an agreement on custody arrangements for their child. A Franklin court may order a child custody evaluation in a divorce, annulment or separation.

Child custody evaluations can also be ordered if one parent raises concerns about the other parent’s ability to care for the child. For example, if a parent has a history of substance abuse, neglect, or domestic violence, the court may order a custody evaluation to determine if that parent is fit to take care of their child.

What are the 7 parenting factors child custody evaluators are looking at?

As referenced in Tennessee law § 36-6-106, when making custody determinations in cases involving minor children, the court considers the best interests of the child. The court’s custody arrangement should allow both parents to participate in the child’s life as much as possible, based on several factors. The strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent are evaluated, including whether one parent has performed the majority of child rearing responsibilities related to the daily needs of the child.

Here are seven factors that child custody evaluators examine when determining custody arrangements:

  1. Civility of the parents: Evaluators aim to determine the past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities by each parent. They also forecast the willingness of each parent to encourage a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
  2. Compliance with court orders: They also evaluate whether each parent is likely to comply with court-ordered parenting arrangements and rights, and investigate any evidence of one parent denying the other parent parenting time in violation of a court order. Similarly, refusal to attend a court-ordered parent education seminar may be considered by the court as a lack of good-faith-effort and negatively impact the offending parent’s custody arraignment.
  3. Each parent as an independent provider: This portion of the examination helps to ensure that the child’s basic needs are met and that they receive proper care and attention. Each parent’s track record of responsibility is also accounted for, as it indicates which parent has taken the greater responsibility in parenting. This is an important factor in determining which parent can provide a more stable and nurturing environment for the child.
  4. Emotional support for the child: The emotional ties between each parent and the child will be examined. This helps to determine which parent can provide a more loving and nurturing environment for their child. This helps the court to ensure that the child’s emotional and developmental needs are met and that they receive appropriate care and attention.
  5. The mental and emotional fitness: The court may order an examination of a parent which could include disclosure of confidential mental health information under Tennessee law 33-3-105.
  6. Family and social dynamics of the child: This portion of the evaluation includes the child’s interaction with siblings and other relatives, as well as their involvement in school and other extracurricular activities.
  7. Evidence of abuse: Evaluators also investigate any evidence of physical or emotional abuse of the child by either parent or any other individual who routinely interacts with the child. Any allegations of abuse must be thoroughly investigated to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we are dedicated to helping divorced parents obtain fair child custody arrangements Our Franklin child custody attorneys understand that child custody issues can arise even after the court orders their initial judgment. Our attorneys are committed to representing your rights to the best of our abilities, both in and out of court. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our offices in Franklin, Brentwood, or Columbia.

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