Child custody is often the most contested issue in a divorce. This is understandable given that one’s children are probably the most important thing to them. When these matters can’t be amicably resolved amongst the parents, a court may have to step in to determine what type of custody and visitation arrangement supports the child’s best interests.
To do so, courts often utilize child custody investigators. These individuals are ordered by the court to assess a family and make recommendations regarding custody and visitation. To do so, custody investigators are given a lot of responsibilities. They have to become familiar with the family and its history, which means reviewing the custody case as well as any relevant medical, criminal, child abuse and neglect, and educational reports. If they can’t access that information due to confidentiality, then they are tasked with obtaining the appropriate releases.
But their duties don’t end there. Instead, they are also allowed to interview anyone who has knowledge of the family and each parent’s interactions with the child in question. This may include neighbors, relatives, siblings, doctors, and anyone else who plays a significant role in the child’s life. The custody investigator is also required to meet and observe the child and how he or she interacts with each parent.
Once their investigation is completed, custody investigators write a report that is then filed with the court. The report can make a number of recommendations pertaining to child custody and visitation, but it can also recommend additional evaluations, such as psychological, substance abuse, and parenting evaluations.
Having a child custody investigator on your case can feel intrusive. You’ll need to be careful with how you present yourself during this investigation, too, as recommendations made by the investigator can have a lot of sway with the court. To best protect your position and the best interests of your child, then, it might be best to work with a family law attorney who will know how to utilize these investigations to your advantage.