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When do custody evaluations happen in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2023 | Child Custody

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.

Parental request

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.

Court order

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.


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