Why Would an Illinois Court Order a Child Custody Evaluation? 

Posted on in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_228470305.jpgIssues of child custody are often among the most strongly disputed in Illinois divorces. Both parents, loving their children and believing they know what is best, may be at loggerheads about parenting time arrangements or who should have the power to make important decisions for the children. Courts may also be unsure whether either parent is capable or safe in their parenting abilities. If there are concerns about how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be allocated, a court may order a custody evaluation, or a 604.10(b) evaluation. 

When Can a Court Order a Custody Evaluation? 

Courts can request a comprehensive custody evaluation any time a judge has questions about the facts or circumstances of a child’s home environment, including when there are concerns about: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Absent or neglectful parenting 
  • Mental illness
  • A child with special medical, educational, developmental, or other needs 

A custody evaluation can also be ordered when: 

  • One or both parents request a custody evaluation 
  • A child representative, such as a guardian ad litem, requests a custody evaluation

Even if a parent requests and pays for a custody evaluator, he or she is still a neutral party whose responsibility is to find and report on the facts. Whether the parents or a court request the evaluator, the responsibility for paying for the evaluator will be allocated to the parents. 

What Happens During a Custody Evaluation? 

Depending on the complexity of the case, the distance between parents’ homes, and the schedule of the evaluator, custody evaluations can take months to complete. While the needs of each evaluation will vary depending on the family and their particular concerns, most evaluators will complete the following tasks: 

  • Comprehensive psychological testing and interviewing of each child and each parent, including stepparents or other adults in the home
  • Interviewing adults familiar with the child’s home situation, including teachers, neighbors, or religious clergy
  • Conducting extended home visits where the evaluator can observe the child, the organization of the home, and each parent’s parenting style 
  • Requesting documents, including report cards, medical records, and police reports 

Although a custody evaluation can feel invasive, it is important to be honest and comply with the evaluator’s requests. If you do not, a judge can see this as a red flag and may order you to comply with the requests anyway. 

Once the evaluator feels her job is complete, she will submit a full report to the judge describing the details of her findings and experiences with the family. An evaluator also makes a recommendation about how parenting time and parental responsibilities should be divided, although the final authority for this decision rests with the judge. 

Call a Kane County Child Custody Evaluation Lawyer

Finding out that a court has ordered a child custody investigation in your case can be frightening and overwhelming. Fortunately, at Shaw Sanders, P.C., we have the experience necessary to help your family get through this challenging time. Our Kane County child custody evaluation lawyers will work hard to protect your parental rights and will advocate for you and advise you every step of the way. Call us today at 630-584-5550 to schedule a free, confidential consultation. 





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