Divorced parents in California sometimes require modifications to existing child custody orders. Either parent may request child custody modifications when circumstances and schedules change. Requesting periodic child custody modifications is normal and doesn’t always mean that parents are fighting.
Child custody evaluations
When parents have ongoing disputes over child custody and visitation, the court may order a child custody evaluation. This could also be done in situations where there are serious concerns about a child’s welfare.
Child custody evaluations are ordered by Family Law Judicial Officers and typically fall into one of three categories:
- Evaluation for questions about what is in a child’s best interest.
- Evaluation for serious allegations of child sexual abuse.
- Evaluation for cases that require psychological assessment.
When the court orders a child custody evaluation for modifications, a professional evaluator must be selected. Both parents will have the opportunity to look over the list of evaluators offered by the court and reach a mutual agreement about which evaluator they want to look into their case.
What happens during the evaluation
Child custody evaluators are specifically trained for cases involving domestic violence and child abuse. During the evaluation, they may conduct home visits, interviews and psychological testing. If necessary, child welfare services and law enforcement may be consulted. At the end of the evaluation period, the evaluator will create a report outlining their recommendations for child custody and/or visitation and then submit this report to the court.
Avoiding a child custody evaluation
Unless there are legitimate concerns about a child’s safety, a child custody evaluation may unnecessarily complicate child custody issues. Parents may be able to avoid this stress by working out their child custody issues through mediation.