Suppose you are involved in a contentious divorce or child custody case or anticipate being involved in one. In that case, divorce or child custody case case case casecase or anticipate being involved in one, you should be aware that home studies are conducted regularly depending on your case's specific circumstances.
While it can be overwhelming to consider the possibility of a stranger coming into your home, “studying” you, and then making determinations that can affect the outcome of your case, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to help you understand and plan for this stage of your case.
From my experience, I can relate to you that one of the most, if not the most, important factors that a judge will use to decide a child custody matter on behalf of two parents is the utilization of a home study.
Depending on the study results and how you and your home are evaluated, you could end up having very different outcomes. During the heat of a divorce or child custody case, you may not have time to prepare thoroughly for the day that a social worker or amicus attorney comes to visit you. Therefore, now is the best time to prepare for this important event.
A Child Custody Evaluation in Detail
In highly contested child custody cases, a court may order a child custody evaluation to be conducted. This is done so that the judge may look into the specific circumstances of both you and your opposing party’s home lives. Suppose you and your spouse cannot agree to a possession schedule, conservatorship rights/duties, or any other issue related to your children. In that case, possession schedule, conservatorship rights/responsibilities, or any other matter related to your children, a child custody evaluation may be in your future.
Since a judge only has a limited view of you and your spouse as parents from what is seen in a courtroom, the child custody evaluation is a more comprehensive look at your home life.
How you relate to your children, how you relate to your spouse, and your child's specific needs will be evaluated. Suppose particular events occurred in the past that the judge believes to be relevant. In that case, those can be looked into by the evaluator and interviews conducted by appropriate parties.
Before all is said and done, the evaluator will have looked into every nook and cranny, literally and figuratively, in your life to help the judge determine what living situation is in the best interests of your children to reside in primarily.
Who is the child custody evaluator?
In your child custody or divorce case, the evaluator will be an unbiased party who has no prior relationship with either you or your opposing party. The contents of their evaluation will be compiled into a document known as a report that your judge will rely heavily upon when determining custody.
That is if your case makes it to a trial. Often the results of an evaluation will convince one side or the other (or sometimes both sides) in a child custody case to settle before even reaching the courthouse steps.
I should point out that the evaluator does not act as the ultimate decider of anything. While they will likely be a professional therapist, counselor, or even an attorney, their recommendations are just that- recommendations. Ultimately, the judge in your case will be charged with making any final determinations.
There is no advocating the evaluator does that on behalf of either you or your opposing party. It can sometimes feel that way, based on what prior clients have told me, but from my experience, these evaluators are very straightforward and objective most of the time.
The child custody evaluator’s Report
Once the evaluation of both your and your opposing party’s home has been completed, the child custody evaluator will create a report that discusses both their findings and their recommendations to the judge.
Conservatorship, possession, access, and other issues will be detailed. This is a heavy burden for the evaluator to bear. The report's contents will be admitted into evidence should your case make it to a trial. Judges place a lot of weight and emphasis on the evaluations contained in the report.
How in-depth does an evaluation get?
If there are issues raised in your child custody case that merit further investigation, a judge will likely ask the evaluator to focus on those. For example, suppose there are allegations against you that you were abusive or neglectful of your child. In that case, abusive or neglectful of your child, then it is probable that an evaluator will focus on how you interact with your child and look at your home to determine if there are any conditions in existence that could harm your child or put them in danger.
Your parenting will be evaluated, as will that of your opposing party. Independent judgments will be made about each, but you and your opposing party will not be made.
Before you consider putting on a “show” for the evaluator to show them how you and your children interact, be aware that this will likely not be the evaluator’s first experience in a home environment. As a result, your actions may come through loud and clear and hollow and façade-like. I would recommend that you conduct yourself in a typical manner for yourself. You will feel better about the study, as will your children.
The different types of child custody evaluations will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.
If you are interested in learning more about child custody evaluations, I would certainly recommend that you return to our blog tomorrow to read more on this subject.
If you have questions about custody evaluations or any other subject in family law, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. Our licensed family law attorneys handle divorce and child custody cases that involve evaluations regularly and would be happy to share additional knowledge with you. A consultation is free of charge and is available six days a week.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Facing a child custody evaluation? Here are tips to conducting yourself with the evaluator
- Methods to help when working with a child custody evaluator
- Preparing for a Child Custody Evaluation
- The effect of a child custody evaluation on your family law case
- Types of child custody evaluations and the details associated with an investigation
- Modifying a child custody order: A how-to guide for Texas parents
- Where will my child's custody case need to be filed?
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
- Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
- Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's essential to speak with one of our Spring, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Child Custody lawyers in Spring, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Child Custody cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.