Any party to a divorce, paternity, or the Court may request/order a custody evaluation. A custody evaluation is normally done to request a professional’s opinion on what is in the children’s best interests for custody, parenting time, and/or relocation.
At the end of the process, an evaluator will make custody type recommendations to the Court after spending a significant amount of time with the parties. In the event you obtain an unfavorable custody evaluation, there are five important ways you may challenge the recommendations if you believe they are not in the children’s best interests.
First, know a custody evaluator’s report and recommendations are not binding on the court. It may be at trial you have sufficient evidence to overcome the recommendation. The trial court decides what is in the children’s best interests and can disregard a custody evaluation.
Second, it may be that new information has arisen that may be submitted to the evaluator. With this, many evaluators will make amendment to their report, which could be a change in custody recommendations (which includes parenting time).
Third, evaluators are human like the rest of us and can make mistakes in recommendations. In the right case, it may be that having another evaluator review the report and testify about its problems (assuming they exist) is the right approach.
Fourth, in a few cases, it may be that a more credentialed evaluator can conduct a second custody evaluation and incorporate the first one and show the disconnect between the report and what is in the children’s best interests.
Thus, recommendations that are incongruous with your legal objective may be overcome with good counsel, implementing one of these tools, and clearly presenting your case to the neutral judge. Family law statues and cases provide a wide array of tools to ensure that the story is told of what is in the children’s best interests.
This blog post is written by attorneys from Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for representation. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice throughout the State of Indiana.