Child Custody Evaluations in New Jersey
If you’re going through a divorce that involves children, you know how painful and complex it can be to make decisions about sharing custody of your children, and how visitation time will work. If you are able, resolving these issues out of court either with your ex individually or with the use of a mediator can simplify the process and be far less contentious. However, many divorcing parents are required to take their dispute to court for a judge to resolve issues surrounding child custody. One tool used by courts and parents to resolve these issues is a child custody evaluation. Learn more about how this process works below.
When allocating custody and visitation time, courts will use a variety of factors to make their decision, but none is more significant to this decision than the best interests of the child. Determining what these best interests may be requires a great deal of information about the child’s individual personality and circumstances. One way to learn more about what is best for an individual child is with the use of a child custody evaluation. New Jersey Family Part judges can require that a child undergo a mental health professional’s evaluation, or the parents can have the child evaluated by a mental health expert of their choosing who will testify in court to their expert evaluation of the child. Courts may order an evaluation where the judge believes that a child is being subjected to abuse or an otherwise unsafe living environment, or where one parent wishes to change an existing custody arrangement and the other parent opposes that request.
Whether the evaluation is requested by the court or the parents, the parents will bear the cost. A mental health professional will interview the child and parents, and may make use of psychological tests conducted on the child. An evaluation can involve multiple professionals, including social workers, forensic psychologists, and psychiatrists. These professional opinions can be highly persuasive to the judge. This fact makes it critical that you secure the representation of an attorney who understands how to present and frame this evidence before the judge to ensure your rights and interests as a parent are protected.
For assistance with your divorce, custody dispute, or creation of a prenuptial agreement in New Jersey, contact the knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced Union family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro for a consultation on your case, at 908-964-0102.