There’s a lot on the line when the custody of your child is in dispute. The outcome of these matters can affect the safety and wellbeing of your child as well as your relationship with him or her. Although many parents in Georgia are able to negotiate resolutions to their child custody disputes, others are unable to do so. When this happens, the decision is ultimately left in the hands of a judge who will consider a number of factors to determine what type of child custody arrangement best supports the child’s best interests.

This is nerve-wracking for many parents considering that this means that the court will base its decision entirely on the evidence presented to it. Yet, this doesn’t mean that the courts are making blind decisions. Instead, they actively try to obtain the information they need to have a clear picture of the family and what is best for the child. While this certainly means considering the evidence that each parent presents, it also typically means ordering a child custody evaluation.

In Georgia, a psychologist who is tasked with assessing the family and making recommendations regarding custody conducts a child custody evaluation, if ordered to do so by the court. This evaluation can be pretty wide-reaching, including conducting various assessments of both parents and the child, considering pertinent school and medical records, and even interviewing people who are close to the family, such as teachers and other caregivers. A child custody evaluator may even conduct home visits and observe parenting time to see how the child interacts with each parent.

Although the results of a child custody evaluation are not controlling on a judge’s custody determination, they are generally given a lot of weight since they are conducted by a neutral third-party. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to sit back and accept every aspect of a custody evaluation report. Instead, you can challenge parts of the evaluation that is detrimental to your position, and you might have other evidence at your disposal.

All of that is to say that you need to be prepared for your custody dispute. If that leaves you feeling anxious and overwhelmed, the good news is that you don’t have to face this process alone. Instead, you can find guidance and legal help from a legal advocate who is adept at handling child custody issues.