When going through a divorce, one of the most pressing issues that can come up for couples with a child or children is the issue of child custody. Parents who can agree on child custody through a parenting plan can make the process simpler; those who cannot agree may face a difficult and emotional process.
Child custody evaluators may be necessary to decide what's in the child's best interests regarding who should have custody or how the parents will divide custody. An attorney for child custody evaluations from the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny in Bellevue can help you with this process – call 425-460-0550.
Purpose of a Child Custody Evaluation
The purpose of a child custody evaluation is for an evaluator to assess parents with the interests of the child in mind. The evaluator should have requisite professional experience, training and education to make an evaluation of the parents, the child(ren) and their relationship.
Under Washington State Revised Code Section 26.09.002, “the best interests of the child shall be the standard by which the court determines and allocates the parents’ parental responsibilities.” As such, the evaluator must focus on components that pertain specifically to the best interests of the child, such as family dynamics, cultural issues, and the child’s psychological, educational and physical needs.
Preparing for a Child Custody Evaluation
Preparing for a child custody evaluation can be a challenging and intimidating experience. The steps of a child custody evaluation typically include a parental history review, interviews, psychological testing, observed interactions between the parent and child, interviews with references, and follow-up interviews.
Parents should always answer questions honestly, never prompt a child or tell him or her to lie, always cooperate with the evaluator, and always show up to appointments on time. Some types of things you should be prepared to talk about may include your parenting style and anything that your ex-spouse or references may say about you. If there is a history of domestic violence, abuse, any type of drug use or illegal activities, or if you believe your ex-spouse is unfit for any other reason, report this to the evaluator.
Your Evaluation May Require References
In addition to answering questions about yourself and being observed by an evaluator, you’ll also have the opportunity to submit collateral sources, or references. These references can provide documents to the custody evaluator (usually letters regarding your abilities as a parent) and may be asked to participate in an interview. Because your references will provide information to the custody evaluator about you and your abilities to care for your child, it is important that choose your references wisely. Trusted relatives, school psychologists or other parents may be good choices.
If the evaluator receives information about you -- either from your behavior, from your ex-spouse, from collateral sources or from your child – indicating you are unfit to be the child’s custodial parent, then you may lose your custodial rights.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Child Custody Evaluations?
If you’re in the middle of a divorce in Bellevue, Washington, and you and your spouse cannot agree on who will have custody of your child, you may be subject to a child custody evaluation process. It may be beneficial to have an attorney on your side who can advocate for you, help prepare you for questioning and otherwise guide you through the process.
A child custody evaluation process is one of the most important things that you and your child will ever undergo. If you need legal help, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny is ready to help. Call us today at 425-460-0550 or fill out our contact form.