There’s something to be said about what comes out of the mouths of babes. When announcing parental separation, children have their own version of the transpiring events. Some will even proclaim that they themselves are getting divorced. Nothing should be further from the truth. When things seem impossible for your family’s future, it might make sense to consider retaining a parenting/custody expert.
No doubt that custody disputes are among the most difficult components of family law. When it comes to divorce, there can be other concerns. Without question, dividing up the furniture can become contentious. That said, splitting up time with the children is something entirely different.
Of course, parenting time and custody disputes can arise in situations when the parents never married – even if they lived together for years. It could be that a couple parts ways during the mother’s pregnancy. Meanwhile, same-sex parents may also feel their heartstrings pulled when it comes to making decisions about their children.
Unfortunately, some parents think of their children as virtual pawns. They figure they are hurt – and can think of no better way to get revenge. Meanwhile, it is the child who suffers the most damage in the end.
Parents involved in high-conflict custody battles need help. In such cases, an experienced family law attorney may suggest retaining a parenting/custody expert. Ultimately, the court will rule in what it views as the child’s best interests.
Custody and Parenting Time Disputes
In a prior article, we provided you with information regarding custody and parenting time mediation. The court orders mediation so that the parties will be guided through discussions to find suitable solutions regarding arrangements for their children.
A trained mediator guides the parties through the process – in the hopes that they can come up with their own solutions. According to information provided by the courts, the goal is to find answers as far as the “schedule of the time children are to be in the care of each parent, parent's participation in education, health care, religious upbringing, decision making and financial support.”
Unfortunately, mediation does not always work. Sometimes the parties are so far apart in their feelings that it is necessary to explore alternative means of resolution.
Parenting/Custody Expert Evaluations
In many cases, it is actually the judge who orders a parenting/custody expert evaluation. This can be a costly procedure and may feel intrusive. The expert is always a mental health professional. Often, a forensic psychologist participates in many of these types of evaluations.
More than likely, your entire family will be interviewed by the expert. And, yes, this also means your children. Both parents will be asked questions regarding parenting styles, from everyday living to discipline techniques. Here are some other matters that may be addressed:
- Parental availability
- Living arrangements
- Observation of interaction with child
- Attitude towards other parent
- Psychological testing
Again, these are just some of the issues that a forensic psychologist will consider when making a report for the court. More than likely, you will feel as though you are under a microscope for examination.
The court will almost always weight heavily on the opinion submitted by the parenting/custody expert. It is not unusual for both parties to employ their own expert for judicial review. The court’s ruling will be based on the best interests of the children.