Any contested conservatorship, which is the Texas’s term for child custody, is always a difficult decision. Oftentimes, judges have to make a decision between two Houston-area residents who seem to be upstanding residents who are, legally, fit parents who love their children.
As such, deciding the best interests of the children can be hard, as it is a decision between two people who are, on the surface, good parents.
The decision can be especially hard since the judge making it often does not have the same opportunity to get a full and complete picture of the family’s situation as would someone outside of the courtroom.
For this reason, in some child custody cases, it may be appropriate to have a child custody evaluator involved. Under Texas law, a child custody evaluator must be someone who works full time in the fields of psychology, social work, human services or the like.
She must also have an advanced degree, sufficient work experience and obtain a license as a child custody evaluator before conducting evaluations.
If the court orders a child custody evaluation, then the evaluator will interview each parent as well as the child. Depending on the rules of the court, the evaluation may also involve the interviewing of other parties and investigating other matters.
The point of the evaluation is for the evaluator to assess the mental health and habits of both parents, as well as the child, in order to make his recommendation about conservatorship and parenting time. This information can be very helpful to the judge making the ultimate decisions.
Another benefit of a custody evaluation is that they can flush out a parent’s mental health issues, substance abuse habits or the like which, although a well-kept secret, may have a profound impact on how well that parent can care for his or her children.
The law surrounding child custody evaluators and their work are somewhat complicated. Moreover, whether a child custody evaluation is a good idea depends on the circumstances of the individual case.