What is a Custody Evaluation?
How do I request a Custody Evaluation in my Washington family law case?
First, your case will need to be “open” with either a Petition for Divorce, Legal Separation, Parenting Plan, or Modification of Parenting Plan. Once you have an “open” case, then there are a few ways to request a Custody Evaluation be ordered in your case.
- You can file a customized Motion for Order (FL All Family 181) and file a Notice of Hearing (FL All Family 185).
- You can file a Motion for Temporary Family Law Order (FL Divorce 223, FL Parentage 323, or FL Modify 623) and file a Notice of Hearing (FL All Family 185).
Either way you request a Custody Evaluation, the issue will have to go in front of the Judicial Official assigned to your case, unless the other party agrees to undergo a Custody Evaluation. If the other party agrees, then both parties will sign an Order Appointing Parenting Evaluator/Investigator (FL All Family 148). In any of these situations, it is your responsibility to research the available Evaluators in the area and provide the court with their rates and availability.
What does a Custody Evaluation look like?
What are the responsibilities of a Custody Evaluator in Washington?
During the investigation, the Evaluator is required to be a neutral third party and must show fairness in dealings with all parties while upholding the ethical principles they are bound to.
The Custody Evaluator must:
- 1. Not discriminate based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or any basis prohibited by law.
- 2. Be familiar with or obtain consultation regarding the psychological aspects of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, and family conflict.
- 3. Not have provided therapeutic services to any party involved in the evaluation.
- 4. Interpret test(s) consistent with current research or standards of practice if any are performed.
- 5. Avoid multiple relationships when conducting parenting evaluations.
- 6. Maintain a written record of the evaluation.
- 7. Follow the code of ethics for psychologists.
Psychologists are bound by their own code of ethics, as well as the Washington Administrative Code, and the applicable domestic relations laws under the Revised Code of Washington.
When should I request a Custody Evaluation?
Commonly, a Custody Evaluation is requested when there is high conflict, extreme allegations, or serious questions of mental health issues.
Requesting a Custody Evaluation may be a good idea in some of, but not limited to, the following situations:
- The other parent shows signs of mental illness or other issues that have detrimentally affected the child’s wellbeing.
- The other parent has untreated and has discontinued seeking treatment for their mental health diagnoses.
- The other parent is lying and hiding information related to the child.
- The other parent is attempting to alienate you from the child.
- The other parent is neglectful or emotionally abusive toward the child, but there is not sufficient evidence to show to the court.
- The child expresses concerning things to you that the other parent does, but you have little to no evidence other than the child’s report.
- The child has had a recent and extreme change in behavior, but the parents do not communicate well enough to figure out the root cause.
How much does a Custody Evaluation cost?
Hire an experienced child custody attorney in Vancouver, Washington!
If you want to request a Custody Evaluation in your child custody case but need help with the process, please get in touch with an experienced Vancouver, Washington family law attorney at Navigate Law Group so we can help guide you.
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Every legal issue is very unique. Accordingly, the information in this blog is intended as general education material and not as legal advice. If you think you may have a legal issue, you should consult an attorney.