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Will a Child Custody Evaluation Be Needed in My Divorce?

Posted on in Child Custody

TX divorce lawyerIf you are planning to end your marriage, you will need to address a wide variety of legal issues. In a contested divorce, disputes with your spouse can become highly contentious, and if you have children together, you will likely disagree about how you will share in parenting duties and divide the time that your children spend in each of your homes. If you are struggling to reach agreements about complex child custody issues, the judge in your case may decide that a child custody evaluation is needed. Depending on the circumstances of your case, either a guardian ad litem or another type of child custody evaluator may be appointed.

What Is a Guardian ad Litem?

The court may appoint a person who will represent the best interests of the child in a divorce or child custody case. In many cases, a guardian ad litem will be an attorney, but they may also be another person who has the training and experience necessary to determine what is in a child’s best interests.

The guardian ad litem, or GAL, will conduct an investigation and gather information about the case. They may conduct interviews with a child who is at least four years old, the parents, and anyone else who has knowledge about the child’s history and circumstances, such as teachers or childcare providers. They will also be able to obtain records related to the child’s education, medical care, or psychological treatment.

A GAL may encourage parents to use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve child-related disputes or reach a settlement. After finishing their investigation, the GAL will submit a report to the court offering recommendations on how to resolve child custody issues in a way that protects the child’s best interests while providing an explanation for the basis of these recommendations. During divorce litigation, the parties may call the guardian ad litem as a witness and cross-examine them about their report.

Child Custody Evaluators

In other situations, a person such as a social worker or child psychologist may be appointed by the court to investigate the circumstances of the parents and the child and provide a report offering recommendations regarding custody of the child. A child custody evaluator will usually be required to interview both parents and observe the child while they are in the care of each parent.

Interviews may also be conducted with children who are at least four years old, and an evaluator may visit each parent’s home to assess whether they will be able to provide a safe living environment for the child. An evaluator may also obtain relevant records, such as children’s school or medical records or records related to parents’ physical or mental health treatment. The evaluator will submit a report to the court detailing their findings and recommendations regarding child custody.

Contact an Austin Complex Child Custody Lawyer

The recommendations of a guardian ad litem or child custody evaluator can play a major role in the decisions made during a contested divorce case. It is crucial to work with an attorney who can make sure you respond correctly during a child custody evaluation and provide the right information to show that you can provide for your child’s best interests. At Powers and Kerr, PLLC, our Austin, TX family law attorneys will fight to protect your parental rights during your divorce. Call our office at 512-610-6199 to learn more about how we can help with your case.

 

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.107.htm

https://www.custodyxchange.com/texas/evaluation.php

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