Child custody disputes can be emotionally challenging, and in New Jersey, ensuring the best interests of the child is paramount. There are two primary scenarios in which a child custody evaluation may become necessary: at the request of either parent or at the discretion of the court.
Understanding the factors that contribute to a custody evaluation order can help you decide if your children could benefit from one.
When either parent has concerns about the custodial situation with the other parent, they can request a custody evaluation through the court. For parents concerned about neglect or abuse, a custody evaluation can help.
Sometimes, parents have concerns about the child’s well-being even without any direct abuse or neglect. For example, an unsafe living environment, inappropriate caregiving or substance abuse problems may contribute to the need for a custody evaluation.
If a custodial parent is planning a relocation, the non-custodial parent can request a custody evaluation to determine if moving is in the child’s best interest. The evaluation assesses the impact on the child’s education, stability and relationship with the non-custodial parent.
Even when both parents come to an agreement on custody, the judge retains the right to order a custody evaluation as well. If the judge has any concerns about the child’s best interests, the evaluation provides detailed information about each living situation. These orders occur frequently in high-conflict situations and in some cases when the parents cannot reach an agreement on custody and visitation.
Research shows that only 22% of non-custodial fathers have joint custody agreements for their children. A custody evaluation can help both parents preserve their relationship with their children.