The court-sponsored evaluator is expected to make recommendations to the court. This is almost always the case when Family Relations officers are involved. Independent evaluators vary as to whether they make final recommendations or choose only to provide the court with information to make its own decisions. Either way, while courts are not bound by these reports, they rely very heavily on them. Once recommendations have been issued, you must consider them carefully. Your chances of refuting them, or petitioning the court to have them stricken from the court record, are slim to none. Click here for a terrific website dedicated to child-centered family evaluations.
The evaluator usually recommends legal and physical custody (sole or joint) and a parenting schedule for each party. The recommendations may be written, oral, presented separately to the parties, or to the parties together in the same room, with or without attorneys. Recommendations may also include other elements. For example, the evaluator may recommend that either the parents or the child continue or begin therapy, that the child receive special education services, or that medication for parents or children is continued and monitored. Assessment of children’s special needs or parenting vulnerabilities may translate into a recommendation concerning parenting in the future.
Life Under the Court’s Microscope
During your divorce, you are, in effect, under a microscope. Both the court and your spouse are examining every aspect of your behavior. Sometimes, spouses even hire private investigators to follow estranged spouses around. While not all of the information is pertinent, it is unsettling to have people watching. Your behavior will be scrutinized closely during this process. Click here for another terrific article.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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