Contested Custody Cases and Divorce
Custody can be one of the most contested issues in a divorce. This is especially true when there are issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, or other matters that could impact the wellbeing of the children. Many people believe that custody matters favor the mother, but that is not strictly true. The court will always make the decision that is in the best interests of the children.
Contested custody cases are those in which the parents cannot agree to a parenting schedule or do not want the other parent to have decision-making power over the children. In these cases, both sides would present arguments to the court and ultimately, the court would have the final say.
Child psychologists and social workers help evaluate children
Before litigation begins there would likely be some form of mediation to at least determine where both parents are on the matter. During mediation, one child psychologist or social worker would listen to the arguments of both parents and evaluate the children. In some cases, it can be very obvious which parent is better suited to the task of having legal custody. In other cases, the accusations against both spouses may have merit, and the court has to make a difficult decision.
While mediation is non-binding and efforts at discussion break down sometimes, having experts in social work and psychology bring their expertise to the matter helps both parties recognize that the matter is not being decided in their favor but rather the best interests of their children.
Custody evaluations are conducted by independent experts who evaluate both the children and the parenting of the parents. The psychologist will employ diagnostic interviews and psych evaluations which are not fun for the parents, but give both parents a better sense of how the case will be decided, and what metrics the court will use when determining custody.
In cases where there is a history of substance abuse or mental illness, the psychologist may conduct a psychological evaluation to determine if the parent can handle the task of child-rearing.
In cases where it’s clear that one or both parents have serious accusations leveled against them, a parental fitness evaluation could be ordered. The exams are used to determine whether or not a parent is fit to take care of the children. By the time a judge orders this evaluation, the court is concerned about the well-being of the children. This can include face-to-face interviews, directly observing the parent interacting with the child, and psychological testing. The ultimate goal is to determine what the parent’s assets and liabilities are when it comes to child-rearing.
Talk to a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Today
The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane represent the interests of parents in contested custody cases. Call our Philadelphia divorce lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your concerns immediately.