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Requesting Psychological Evaluation in Child Custody Matter

Courts prefer parents to come to an agreement on child custody and parenting time. If they cannot agree, New Jersey courts will typically order mediation through the New Jersey Custody and Parenting Time Mediation program. If mediation fails to resolve the parties’ issues, then the court will have to entertain arguments and resolve the parenting time dispute based on its own judgment. If the court must make a decision, it may choose to order a child custody evaluation. To learn about psychological evaluations in child custody disputes, continue reading. Call a knowledgeable Englewood child custody and parental rights attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

What is a Child Custody Evaluation?

If the parents cannot agree on child custody in a New Jersey family law dispute, the court might order a child custody evaluation. The court could also order an evaluation if one party asserts that the current custody and parenting time arrangement does not meet the needs of the children. The purpose of the child custody evaluation is to aid the court in making a determination about child custody that serves the best interests of the child at issue.

A child custody evaluation is an independent evaluation conducted by a specially-trained mental health professional, typically a psychologist. The psychologist will evaluate the child and the parents of the child in order to make a recommendation to the court concerning child custody and visitation rights. The evaluation might include multiple interviews with the parents and the child, psychological testing, discussions with therapists and other professionals who have worked with the family, and even collateral sources of information such as teachers, friends, and family members. The specialist may also observe the relationship and interactions between the parents and child. The evaluator may also review records such as school and medical records. The specialist must pay close attention to the needs of the child as well as the child’s relationship with each parent, and whether each parent has the skills necessary to meet the child’s needs.

What is the Psychological Evaluation Meant to Prove?

The child custody evaluation is meant to give the court a report from a mental health professional about the needs of the child at issue and each parent’s capacity to meet those needs, and to recommend an arrangement that best serves those needs. The professional will evaluate and make determinations about a number of issues, including:

  • Any special needs or psychological issues faced by the child
  • Any limitations or serious psychological problems suffered by either parent
  • Each parent’s personality characteristics, parenting styles, and the positive or negative impact on the child
  • The extent of the conflict between the parent and the conflict’s potential impact on the child
  • The nature and quality of each parent-child relationship
  • The potential effect of a proposed significant change, such as one parent moving out of state with the kids

Ultimately, the mental health professional will submit a report to the court overseeing the case. The report will include the evaluator’s recommendations regarding how custody and parenting time should be apportioned.

Seasoned Help With Your New Jersey Child Custody Matter

If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.