North Carolina Custody Evaluation
A North Carolina custody evaluation may be ordered when child custody is in contention. This is a very stressful situation, as any person may feel challenged when under the microscope with regard to parenting, particularly if the other parent has made allegations of abuse (emotional or physical) and is seeking sole custody. It is important that you discuss a custody evaluation with your attorney before attending the evaluation.
Mediation: the First Step
The courts favor parents working out custody arrangements outside of court, whenever possible. The first step in the process is a court-ordered mediation. The state believes that parents who participate in mediation gain certain benefits, including:
- Increasing parental self-determination and communication about co-parenting.
- Empowering parents to identify and promote the best interests of the children.
- Reducing the cost and emotional toll associated with litigation.
If you are facing a North Carolina child custody evaluation, it is important that you have guidance and that you fully understand how the process works, what to expect, and the risks and potential positives. The Department of Social Services, (DSS), may be involved, and one or both parents may be under investigation. This often takes place in cases in which it is alleged that the children are victims of abuse or neglect.
Custody Evaluations and Protecting Your Parental Rights
Child custody may be a hotly contested issue. In some cases, false accusations of abuse may be leveled by one parent against the other in an effort to influence the outcome in child custody litigation. A custody evaluation may be ordered by the court in these contested cases, or you may choose this action yourself.
What’s Involved with a Custody Evaluation?
The issues addressed in a North Carolina child custody evaluation include:
- Cases in which one parent has exhibited a significant change.
- Cases in which it is alleged that there has been sexual abuse.
- Cases in which a parent is accused of alcoholism, drug use, or criminal activities.
- Cases in which a parent has engaged in parental alienation.
Who Gets Ordered to a North Carolina Child Custody Evaluation?
The court may order a parent or parents to an evaluation. The prospect of being evaluated is daunting, and worthy of concern. The report issued to the court about your capabilities as a parent, and the advice regarding child custody arrangements, carries weight with the court. It is important that this process is carefully managed, and it is critical that you speak with your attorney about what to expect, and how to avoid the pitfalls that could result in a negative report.
Next Steps if You Are Ordered to Have a Custody Evaluation
If you have been ordered to a North Carolina custody evaluation, it is imperative that you get help from a professional child custody lawyer so that your parental rights are protected. The custody evaluation may be ordered to address specific issues, such as drug or alcohol use, allegations of physical or emotional abuse or other issue. A custody evaluation is a critical issue in the final determination in a child custody case, and is not a minor action. If you believe your children are in immediate danger due to actions of your ex-spouse, you may need to consider obtaining an Emergency Custody Order to keep your children safe until the courts can determine new, long term custody arrangements.
When to Seek Help from an Experienced Raleigh Child Custody Attorney
It is advised that you connect with a highly skilled attorney immediately if you have been ordered to attend a child custody evaluation. Whether you were ordered to a custody evaluation, need to have the other parent ordered to such an evaluation, or are a willing participant in an evaluation, the skill with which the process is managed can have a significant impact on the final outcome in a custody case.
When you work with our firm, you have skilled legal representation. Charles R. Ullman, our founding attorney, is one of 300 Family Law Specialists in North Carolina and is a seasoned trial lawyer. He knows how to get you the justice and protection you and your children deserve. Call us at our firm today, or use our online form, if you have any concerns about a child custody evaluation. We can help.
- North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts: Best Practices for Custody Mediation 2014
Last updated: April 21, 2015