How to handle child custody and support are often the most contentious issues that must be decided during the divorce process. Some parents are able to work together to put together their own parenting agreement. When they cannot do this, the court will order a parenting plan for them to follow.
When a parent is disputing custody of their child, in most courts, the Judge will appoint a custody evaluator who will investigate and report back to the court what the evaluator thinks is in the best interest of the children. The Judge might also order a psychological evaluation if there are any mental health issues.
The Custody Evaluator Report
A custody evaluator has the authority to:
- Personally visit each parent’s home.
- Talk to friends and other family members.
- Look at the school records to determine how the children are doing in school.
- Look at the medical records to see if there are any problems and determine which parent takes the children to the doctor most of the time.
- Review the mental health background of each parent.
- Check the criminal background of each parent.
- Check for any CPS history.
Custody evaluators have a broad range of what they can consider when making their recommendations to the court. The court ultimately makes its own decision after reviewing all the evidence presented by the custody evaluator as well as the evidence presented by both parents.
Custody evaluators charge for their time to conduct the investigation and the time they spend in court to testify about the contents of their report. When custody is disputed, other professionals, such as counselors, psychologists or psychiatrists, may also be hired in connection with the case. This approach is expensive and substantially increases the cost of the divorce.
Why Does a Parent Challenge a Parenting Plan?
Unfortunately, the motivation of a parent for challenging a parenting plan is not easy to identify. Some of the main reasons seem to be:
- A parent is attempting to not pay child support or to at least reduce the court-ordered amount of child support.
- The non-primary parent balks about giving up time with the children.
- The primary parent balks about giving the other parent so much time with the children.
- The parent misunderstands the law that the standard possession order is presumed to be best for children over the age of 3 years.
- The parent does not want to just be a “week-end dad.”
- A parent genuinely questions the parenting skills of the other parent.
For More Information About Divorce, Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney.
To schedule a free initial consultation with a Dallas Family Law Attorney, contact Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices at 214-420-1800. Whenever possible, we help parents sit down and work together to come up with their own parenting plan. Call us today for assistance.