Morristown Parenting Time Attorney
What is a Best Interest Evaluation?
In the event of a child custody dispute, the judge may order a best interest evaluation to determine with which party the children will reside. New Jersey Court Rule 5:3-3(b) permits the appointment of experts for custody evaluations.
At The Darling Law Firm we know that your children are the most precious thing you have in this world and when your relationship with their other parent ends, you still want your children in your life as much as they always have been.
What you should expect during a Best Interest Evaluation
Both parties and the children will be interviewed by a licensed practitioner. Adults will be seen individually for psychological interviews and testing, as will children depending on their age. Children will also be observed interacting with each of the adults.
Unlike a typical psychologist patient relationship, the best interest evaluator may place anything stated or observed during interviews or testing into the report they will provide to the court.
You should bring any documents you believe the evaluator should review as well as the names and addresses of anyone you believe the evaluator should interview. Friends and family will typically not be interviewed due to the presumption of bias in favor of the party offering the witness.
Parenting time options – Single Joint Evaluation or each party may retain their own expert
The cost of a custody evaluation is relatively high for some litigants. Depending on the economic circumstances of the parties, the court may require that one party pay the expert’s fee or that the parties share the fee on a percentage basis. Alternatively, where cost is not an issue, each party may wish to retain his or her own expert. The use of individual experts by each party also occurs on appeal, when one or both parties challenge the opinion of the expert in the initial hearing.
How the information the evaluator obtains is issued
Upon completion of the evaluation, the evaluator shall prepare a report of their methods, findings and opinion as to custody. The expert’s report shall be submitted to the court for use in making the custody and parenting time award. Each party shall also receive a copy of the report prepared by the evaluator.
The evaluator’s report should make reference to the factors enumerated in N.J.S.A. 9:4-2(c):
- The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child
- The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse
- The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings
- The history of domestic violence, if any
- The safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent
- The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision
- The needs of the child
- The stability of the home environment offered
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education
- fitness of the parents
- The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
- The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation
- The parents’ employment responsibilities and
- The age and number of the children
Helping parents with custody issues throughout Northern New Jersey
We have offices in Morris and Bergen County, New Jersey in order to offer convenience to our clients throughout Northern NJ. The Darling Law Firm serves clients in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Morris, Somerset, Warren and Sussex Counties. We work with a wide range of clients and are knowledgeable in custody issues for married, unmarried and same-sex couples.
If you are visiting this webpage, now is the time to call 973-584-6200 to schedule an initial consultation and protect your rights or click here to e-mail us.
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