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When Can a Custody Evaluator Be Helpful in an Illinois Divorce? 

Posted on in Child Custody

cook county custody lawyerDeciding how to arrange a parenting time schedule is never easy, but it can be particularly difficult when both parents are extremely hostile toward each other or when a parent is poorly equipped to care for their child. Sometimes, the court cannot determine the most appropriate arrangement without the assistance of other professionals, such as guardian ad litem or custody evaluators.

What Does a Custody Evaluator Do? 

A custody evaluator is a trained professional who is usually a psychologist, psychiatrist, or attorney. Custody evaluators are different from child representatives because they do not legally represent the child or anyone else. A custody evaluator’s job is to work with the judge, the parents, the child, and any other relevant parties to objectively assess what would be in the best interests of the child. 

In order to do this, evaluators may employ a wide range of strategies. These include:

  • Interviewing each child, including asking about their personal preferences if appropriate

  • Interviewing the parents, often on multiple occasions

  • Requiring parents to be psychologically tested and evaluated

  • Interviewing teachers, healthcare providers, neighbors, religious leaders, and anyone else who can provide insight into the case

  • Performing home visits to both parents, which may consist of entire days or weeks of scheduled or random visits 

  • Reviewing documents or records, such as health records, a child’s grade reports, or police records of any abuse

Custody evaluators are unbiased individuals who have experience assessing complex home and family situations. It is unwise for parents to put on a show of false behavior for evaluators; rather, parents are better off being authentic and trying to offer an honest and straightforward view of the situation. 

Does a Custody Evaluator Determine the Final Outcome of a Case?

No. A custody evaluator has no legal authority to make decisions. However, they will create a report for the judge and offer recommendations based on their observations. Judges take the reports of custody evaluators seriously and may ask the evaluator further questions. 

Do I Have to Pay For the Custody Evaluator? 

If the evaluator is appointed by the court, judges may require one or both parents to pay for the evaluator’s services. If one parent decides that hiring an evaluator might be beneficial to his or her case, he or she will be responsible for paying all of the evaluator’s fees, regardless of the outcome. Parents may not bribe an evaluator or pressure them to find in their favor, and attempting to do so is likely to backfire. 

Speak with a Cook County Divorce Attorney

If you are getting divorced and are wondering whether a custody evaluator would be beneficial to your case, consider speaking with Arlington Heights divorce attorney with the firm of A. Traub & Associates. We have experience dealing with complex cases involving conflict and hostility and may be able to help move your case in a favorable direction. Contact us today at [[phone]] to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. 




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