Child Custody Evaluation Attorney Union County, NJ
Serving Parents across Summit, Elizabeth, Westfield, Linden, and Union County
During any Union County divorce or legal relationship dissolution involving the parents of minor children, one of the most important and often difficult issues that will need to be decided is that of child custody. Your child custody agreement will decide not only how much time the children spend with each parent, and when, but also which parent(s) have the authority to make legal decisions for their children including decisions regarding their education, health, and religion.
When a child custody agreement becomes particularly difficult to reach, either the parents or a judge may request that a child custody evaluation be performed. While the findings and results of any child custody evaluation are not final, judges will take them heavily into consideration when making their ultimate child custody ruling. For this reason, it is important to have experienced legal counsel and guidance during any child custody evaluation in order to help you ensure that your role in your children’s lives and your legal rights as a parent are accounted for and protected throughout the process.
At The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, we have extensive experience helping parents across Summit, Elizabeth, Westfield, Linden, Union, and the greater Union County area to successfully resolve their divorce, and navigate the highly complex and often stressful issue of child custody and child custody evaluations.
Contact our firm today to discuss your unique needs and concerns regarding your divorce, your child custody agreement, or a child custody evaluation in a free and confidential consultation.
What Are Child Custody Evaluations?
Union, NJ Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody evaluations are an exhaustive analysis performed in order to gain the best possible understanding of what kind of child custody and parenting time agreement may be in the best interests of the children involved. These evaluations are usually performed by mental health professionals, trained in family and child psychology, and experienced in working with parents, concerned adults, and children alike.
Parents usually have several options when it comes to choosing who exactly will perform the child custody evaluation (which we will discuss below), but no matter who is ultimately chosen to conduct the evaluation, most child custody evaluations involve very similar elements. Child custody evaluations in Union County will almost always involve:
- Up to three planned interviews between the evaluator and each parent
- Up to two planned interviews between the evaluator and each child
- Scheduled time for the evaluator to observe each parent interact with their children
- Planned interviews between the evaluator and adults who are highly involved in the children’s lives such as relatives, teachers, doctors, or caretakers
- Potentially psychological tests of the parents and/or children
These interviews, tests, and observations can be highly stressful for the parents involved, so it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced Union County child custody lawyer before beginning this process. By having a much clearer understanding of your rights, what to expect, and what you should or shouldn’t say or do, it can help to alleviate the stress of this process, and help you ensure that your key role as a parent in your children’s lives is properly taken into account during the child custody evaluation process.
Once the child custody evaluation has been completed, the evaluator will submit their findings and a formal recommendation to the judge outlining what they believe to be in the best interests of the children. While this evaluation is not legally binding, most judges will give child custody evaluation recommendations a great deal of weight and consideration when making a final child custody ruling.
Who Will Perform My Child Custody Evaluation in Union County?
Whether the divorcing parents request that a child custody be performed or a judge orders one, parents are given several options when choosing exactly who will conduct the child custody evaluation. Usually, parents are given the choice between several different court-appointed evaluators, and their services typically cost around $1,000 – $2,500. Alternatively, the parents can hire a private child custody evaluator, but expect their services to come at a much greater expense, potentially as much as $10,000. Finally, if the parents cannot agree on an evaluator, the courts may appoint one to your case, or it also may be possible for the parents to each hire their own evaluator.
Parents are allowed to question an evaluator before choosing one regarding their experience, methodology, or other relevant information, but it is highly recommended that you do not do so personally. Rather, express your needs or concerns about your child custody evaluator to your Union County child custody attorney, and allow them to present those questions to the evaluator themselves. This prevents you from compromising the neutrality of your child custody evaluator by asking the wrong questions, or asking them in a way which impacts their opinion of you.
What Should I Do During My Union County Child Custody Evaluation?
If you have requested that a child custody evaluation be performed, or a judge has ordered one, the most important thing you can do is to first speak with an experienced child custody attorney regarding your rights, options, and best next-steps. Apart from this, your best option is to be as natural and honest as possible with your mediator, and trust that they will recognize the important role that you play in your children’s lives.
However, if you feel uncomfortable for any reason with how your evaluation is proceeding, or how it is being handled, it is extremely important that you raise these concerns with your attorney during the evaluation process itself, rather than afterwards. If you wait until after the evaluation has been completed, these issues will often be dismissed as simply you being unhappy with the results. On the other hand, if you express these issues to your attorney during the actual evaluation process, your attorney can work towards addressing these issues, and ensuring that your child custody evaluation is conducted in a fair and neutral manner.
Contact An Elizabeth Child Custody Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, we have extensive experience advising and guiding parents through the entire child custody evaluation process in Elizabeth, Summit, Union, Linden, Scotch Plains, and the greater Union County area.
Attorney Edward Cooper believes that by listening closely to the needs and concerns of each of his clients, and keeping them highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, he can better understand exactly what kind of resolution will work for them, and work towards securing the outcome that best meets these needs and concerns.
To speak with Edward Cooper and our family law firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, your child custody agreement, or a child custody evaluation, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.