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Preparing for a Custody Evaluation in a Texas Divorce

 Posted on September 14, 2023 in Child Custody

TX family lawyerIn high-conflict child custody disputes during a Texas divorce, the court may order a formal custody evaluation to help determine parenting arrangements that serve the child’s best interests. This in-depth assessment is conducted by a qualified, court-appointed professional evaluator, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist. Their investigation and recommendations carry significant weight in final custody determinations. With so much on the line, proper preparation is crucial for parents navigating a custody evaluation. A Texas attorney can help you along the way.

Understanding the Role of the Evaluator

Custody evaluators have extensive training in family dynamics, child development, and psychology. They act as neutral third parties, not as advocates or therapists. Their role is to conduct an unbiased investigation and provide expert recommendations to the court regarding custody and visitation arrangements that promote the child’s physical safety and psychological well-being, per Texas Family Code provisions.

Selecting the Right Evaluator

Texas family courts maintain rosters of qualified professionals who can serve as child custody evaluators. They have backgrounds in psychiatry, psychology, counseling, or social work. Attorneys from both sides will jointly select an evaluator from the court’s list. Look for relevant expertise with your family’s specific issues. An unbiased track record is also key.

Providing Requested Records and Statements

The evaluator will request various records, documents, and written statements from both parents and any other parties with insight into the family dynamics. This could include:

  • Child medical, educational and, counseling records
  • Journals documenting parental involvement in child-rearing
  • Written statements from teachers, doctors, childcare providers
  • Records related to alleged abuse, drug/alcohol abuse

Responding thoroughly and quickly to these requests is vital, even if it includes unflattering information. Failure to willingly produce relevant materials can negatively impact your custody case.

Preparing Your Home and Children

The evaluator may conduct home visits to observe parent-child interactions in a natural setting. Have your home clean, uncluttered, and child-friendly. Reassure nervous children that the evaluator is there to understand the family better, not to pass judgment. Avoid coaching kids on what to say. The goal is open and honest communication.

Attending Interviews and Assessments

You and your children will be interviewed extensively—both individually and as a family unit. The evaluator will also test psychological functioning. Approach all sessions calmly, honestly, and respectfully. Do not criticize the other parent. Your full cooperation furthers the evaluation’s purpose.

Contact a Frisco Child Custody Lawyer

While settlement is ideal, you may disagree with the evaluator’s conclusions. Their report is not the final decision, though judges will heavily weigh recommendations. Work with a Texas child custody attorney for guidance to present your most favorable case through the evaluation process. With thorough preparation, it can demonstrate you are the better custodial parent choice. Call The Law Office of Linda Risinger at 972-294-6533 for a free consultation.

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