What is a Child Custody Evaluation in a New York Divorce?

In making child custody determinations in a New York divorce, a judge will base his or her decisions on what is in the best interests of the child. But as highly trained in the law as the judge may be, evaluating what will be best for a particular child often requires the assistance of psychologists, social workers, and other professionals. That’s why child custody evaluations performed by a forensic expert are sometimes used to guide judges in making the ultimate decision as to child custody.

Whether requested by the parties or the judge, a child custody evaluation involves meetings, interviews, observations, and other interactions between the evaluator, the child, and the parents. The evaluator should be objective and impartial in conducting the evaluation, and the parents should be cooperative and accommodating in facilitating the evaluator’s work.

A New York Forensic Examination

Key facts to know about a New York child custody evaluation:

  • The evaluator will observe the child’s behavior and interactions with each parent individually and collectively.
  • Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the evaluator may conduct private interviews with the child.
  • The evaluator may try to observe the typical atmosphere at each parent’s home when the child is present. While surprise visits are highly unlikely, the evaluator will try to ensure that the dynamics during the visit are natural and unrehearsed.
  • The evaluator will likely ask to contact and interview doctors, teachers, caregivers, or relatives who are particularly close to the child
  • When the forensic evaluator has completed his or her report, copies will be delivered to the judge who will distribute them to the parties’ attorneys. Copies are not provided to the parents, who may review them with their respective attorneys.
  • At trial, the forensic may be cross-examined about his/her report.
  • The forensic examination will be expensive and will increase the cost of the custody case by thousands of dollars.

Of course, if the parents can resolve the child custody and parenting time arrangements themselves, you and your children can be spared the stress, intrusion and cost of a forensic evaluation. There would be no need for the evaluation.

At Clement Law, we strive to obtain negotiated resolutions as to custody disputes. But, when agreements cannot be reached, we are ready to fight and go to trial to protect your rights and to show that it is in the bests interests of your child for you to have custody.

Daniel Clement:  Experienced New York and New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

At Clement Law, we provide with you experienced and effective representation in your divorce and family law matters. We guide our clients through divorce and help them achieve results that protect their family, and their family’s future, after the divorce.

Contact us or call (212) 683-9551 to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to helping you.

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