If you are preparing for a divorce and have been doing some research online, you may have come across the term, “child custody evaluation.” Most divorces can be resolved without a child custody evaluation. In fact, the Texas courts consider these evaluations a “last resort,” and they are generally only used for establishing parenting rights and responsibilities when there are unique issues at play and the parents cannot arrive at the terms of an acceptable custody arrangement on their own.

Nonetheless, if you are a parent and you are getting ready to go through a divorce, it is important to find out early in the process if you will be required to undergo a child custody evaluation. While the answer is most likely, “no,” if you do need to undergo an evaluation, you need to prepare; and, even if you don’t, the factors considered in these evaluations can be instructive for establishing custody rights in your divorce.

Texas Child Custody Evaluations

The requirements and standards for child custody evaluations are set forth in Chapter 107 of the Texas Family Code. Unless one or both parents voluntarily agree to undergo an evaluation (which is a decision that needs to be made with the advice of an experienced family law attorney), a child custody evaluation can only be conducted pursuant to a court order, and both parents are entitled to a hearing before the court renders its decision. During the evaluation, each parent is entitled to legal counsel of his or her choosing, and the court may appoint an amicus attorney or guardian ad litem to assist in representing the best interests of the child (or children) involved.

In order to make recommendations regarding the parents’ respective child custody and visitation rights, the evaluator may consider numerous factors and sources of information, including:

  • Personal interviews with each of the parents;
  • Interviews with each of the couple’s children;
  • Observations of the children in the presence of each parent;
  • Observations and interviews with any children who live with the parents but are not impacted by the current custody determination;
  • School records, physical and mental health records, criminal records, records from the Department of Family and Protective Services, and any other “collateral” sources of information;
  • Evaluations of each parent’s home environment;
  • Any evidence of abuse or neglect; and,
  • An assessment of each child’s relationship with each parent.

If you will be required to undergo a child custody evaluation, it is important to begin preparing as early as possible. There are steps parents can take to improve their chances of securing custody, and knowing what to expect during the evaluation can be critical to representing yourself in the best possible light.

Contact Our McKinney Family Lawyers for a Free Consultation

To learn more about the processes and procedures involved in seeking child custody during a divorce in Texas, you can contact our McKinney law offices for a free and confidential consultation. Call (214) 726-1450 to request an appointment, or send us your information online and we will be in touch as soon as possible.