The Ugly Truth About Child Custody Evaluations

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Many parents fighting for custody of their kids underestimate the intricacies of child custody evaluations. Not only are they time-consuming and costly, there is a human component involved—the evaluator—which means custody evaluations are anything but routine. If you’re facing a child custody evaluation, it’s essential to understand the process and find a divorce attorney who knows how to manage it.

The bottom line—and something that parents really need to understand—is that most child custody evaluations move very, very slowly, which can be problematic. Since these evaluations drag out, information collected by the evaluator often ends up being out of date by the time you get to trial. Additionally, private custody evaluations are expensive, costing thousands of dollars.

And here’s the ugliest part: While there are some wonderful child custody evaluators who serve families in Tarrant County, there are also some really bad evaluators out there. It’s like any other profession, except that children’s futures are on the line.

One of the biggest issues we’ve found with some evaluators is inadequate follow-up and communication. You can see how that can become a problem when an evaluation drags on for months.

How to ensure your child custody evaluation goes as smooth as possible

Try to avoid needing one in the first place! Custody evaluations involve an intense investigation that can be very invasive and time-consuming. Tarrant County courts believe they should only be ordered in “cases with severe or complex issues and as a last resort.”

If you and the other parent can peacefully co-parent and agree to custody and visitation arrangements, a custody evaluation won’t be necessary. Need help improving your co-parenting skills? A parenting coordinator or family therapist can be a great resource. Ask your attorney for recommendations.

Find a family law firm with plenty of resources to support you. If you can’t avoid a child custody evaluation, you need a law firm that will be super proactive about follow up. It’s the attorney’s job to drive that process. Unfortunately, some attorneys either don’t have the time or won’t make the time for proper follow-up or to coordinate schedules with the child custody evaluator.

At the Sisemore Law Firm, we have an experienced and robust staff that prides itself on staying on top of things and minding the details. As we like to say around here, “Our team is on them like a tick on a dog.” We make sure the evaluators have what they need in a prompt and precise manner, know who their contact person is and stay on them until we all get what we need.

That attention to detail and proactive follow-up makes a big difference. It allows us to maintain up-to-date information, so when we get closer to a hearing or trial, the evaluator isn’t scrambling to remember something from back in March that we need in August.

Hire an attorney experienced in navigating child custody evaluations. An attorney who knows the ropes understands what information the evaluator needs to clearly understand your situation and how to relay things the evaluator may have trouble figuring out on his or her own.

An experienced attorney will also give YOU clear direction on how and when to communicate with the child custody evaluator. In some unfortunate cases, custody evaluators don’t do their due diligence and base their opinions on limited insight. Sometimes they reach out to parents simply to fish for information that supports that opinion. They’re not interested in the whole story. We educate our clients on how to handle those situations.

Need an experienced child custody attorney in Tarrant County?

The family lawyers at the Sisemore Law Firm in Fort Worth are here to help. During a thorough case review, our founder Justin Sisemore will take a deep dive into your case and share his recommendations on how to proceed.

To schedule your confidential consultation, give us a call at (817) 336-4444 or visit our contact page to connect with us online.

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