My Custody Evaluation is Complete - Now What?

Child custody and parenting time evaluations, whether conducted by a private evaluator or court services, usually take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to complete. Once the evaluation is complete, your attorney will be given notice by receiving a copy of the evaluation. In some circumstances (which are rare), the evaluator will prefer to have a meeting with the parties and their attorneys to "review" his or her recommendations prior to the release of the written report. Most commonly, the report will be mailed to the parties' attorneys. [1]

In any event, you and your attorney should take the time to review the report thoroughly to determine what, if any, errors were made by the evaluator. After this initial review, you have the following options:

  1. Child custody settlement agreement, if both parties accept the report. Both parties can accept the report and propose that the recommendations be adopted. Some parties will review the report and determine that the work completed was thorough and the recommendations issued were sound and reasonable. Yes, sometimes, both parties will agree to this! If this is the case, your matter can be settled rather quickly, without the need for a trial.
  2. Child custody trial, if one or both parties contest the report. Sometimes, one or even both parties will find objection(s) to the report and wish to challenge the reporter's recommendations. This will usually mean that your matter must go to trial, and a judge will have to ultimately decide whether the evaluator's recommendations should be accepted or rejected. Remember, it takes two parties to agree to adopt the evaluator's recommendations. If one party disagrees, your case will likely be set for trial.

What to watch out for in reviewing your report:

  1. When did the evaluator last interview you and your children?
  2. Was the report issued in a timely manner? Did the evaluator meet the court imposed deadlines?
  3. Who did the evaluator interview? Did he/she speak to those individuals referenced on your list of collateral contacts?
  4. How many hours were spent at each party's home? How long did each interview last?
  5. Did the evaluator review the Court file? Did he/she review the pleadings and affidavits?
  6. Do you feel that the evaluator understood your concerns?
  7. Did the evaluator listen to your questions and answer them to your satisfaction?
  8. How many hours were devoted by the evaluator to your case?
  9. Did the evaluator speak directly to your children?
  10. Was the other parent present while the evaluator was speaking to the children?

Once the report is issued, your case, in many respects, has only just begun. Be sure to schedule an appropriate amount of time with your attorney to review the report thoroughly.

Contact Christopher M. Banas about Minnesota child custody and parenting time issues, or any other matter, at651-492-1069.

Keywords: Child Custody Evaluation, Parenting Time Evaluation, Minnesota Child Custody Settlement Agreement, MN Child Custody Trial, Minnesota Divorce Lawyer, Dakota County Child Custody, Ramsey County Child Custody, Hennepin County Child Custody, Washington County Child Custody, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Eagan.

[1] In Anoka County, the court issues an order prohibiting the attorneys from releasing a copy of the report to the parties.