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Types of child custody evaluations and the details associated with an investigation

Essentially there are two types of evaluations that you may be involved with in conjunction with your child custody or divorce case- a home study or a social study. A full-fledged child custody evaluation will include an assessment done of you, your ex-spouse, and your children by a psychologist in somewhat more rare instances.

An example that I will provide to clients is if your situation involves allegations of abuse or neglect made against you or your ex-spouse, psychological testing may be ordered by the judge. Substance abuse issues or mental health deficiencies round out the other two most common reasons why a psychological examination may be conducted.

Most typically, the court on its own motion or one of the parties to your lawsuit can request that an evaluation be done and the type and scale of the evaluation. Of course, once the evaluator begins to do their job, he or she can let the court know that based on their study of the situation, a psychological examination of you, the opposing party, and your children are warranted based on any number of circumstances, the sort of which we discussed in the opening paragraph to this blog post.

The cost associated with a child custody evaluation

This is a subject that even the child custody evaluation's initial requestor may not have fully considered before filing the motion. First of all, it is a bad look to request an evaluation and then not be able to pony up the money to pay for your share of the study.

Supposing that the judge grants the motion, he or she will have held a hearing on the motion, taken the time to appoint an evaluator, and the evaluator will have had to reach out to your attorney and opposing counsel to get the logistics of the study started up.

For you to later try and back out of the study due to finances could be a huge hindrance to your case and will likely cause your opposing party, the judge, and the evaluator to become a little upset.

Your attorney should go over with you the range of costs you can expect to incur with the child custody evaluation. Fortunately for you, the evaluator does not work like an attorney, i.e., by the hour. A set cost will be provided to you and the opposing party at the outset of the investigation.

It is not uncommon for a child custody evaluation to cost $2,000 for one party’s share of the cost. If it seems like you have to pay for another attorney in terms of cost, you would not be far off. If a psychologist gets involved, then a retainer payment is often made to the doctor. Additional costs may be incurred if the retainer does not cover all the doctor’s costs in conducting the evaluation.

What actually happens during the evaluation?

We’ve finally made it to the point where we can discuss the actual evaluation. It is a fairly detailed and complex process, and there are a few parts that we can single out and discuss individually.

Much like when you hired your attorney, you will likely fill out some paperwork with the evaluator so that he or she can learn some basic information about your family. Both you and the opposing party will complete this step before the evaluator beings to conduct the evaluation. All of the relevant parties to the case- you, the opposing party, your children and any friends/family members/etc. Type of people may be interviewed, as well.

The next step is to actually have the evaluator sit in on some parenting time between you and your children. The evaluator will be interested in seeing how you all relate to one another and who you are as a parent.

We spoke in yesterday’s blog post about how frequently the evaluator will actually come out to your home and that of your opposing party to look at the living conditions of your house and see you all on your “home turf.”

The reason being is that we all act differently at home as opposed to when we’re out in public, and the judge will want to know if your conduct is the same in court as it is in your home environment.

Personal information is not so personal in a child custody evaluation.

If you thought it was a little much for people outside your immediate family to be interviewed in a child custody evaluation, then you should consider the following while sitting down. In addition to these sorts of interviews, you and the opposing party will be asked to turn over documents that may be related to the evaluation of school paperwork and other things related to your children.

Besides, as in a CPS investigation, collateral persons will be interviewed like teachers, daycare employees, and doctors. If information, like medical or psychological records, is otherwise privileged, the evaluator will ask for you to sign releases to obtain them.

I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that this may be a little over the top for the evaluator to do things like this, but then again, if you want the evaluation to be thorough, complete, and fair, then these documents can go a long way towards achieving that goal. What’s more- the other side has to be imposed upon just as much as you.

How will the evaluation affect your case? Come back tomorrow to read more.

The impact of a child custody evaluation on your case, in general, will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post. If any of today’s subject matter piqued your interest, please give the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, a call to discuss them.

A free of charge consultation is a phone call away and is always free of charge. Our experienced attorneys have handled child custody cases across our state and would be honored to speak to you about doing the same for you and your family.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, 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 important to speak with one of our Houston, TX child custody lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our child custody lawyers in Houston, TX, are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact 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 Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.

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