Is a child custody fight in your future?  Here is information you need to get ready for your Texas child custody social study.  Knowing what needs to be done to get ready for your Texas social study is important. In this third part of a 7 part blog on learn what you need to do to get ready for your Texas child custody social study.

Who Selects the Evaluator?

The Judge will typically permit the attorneys to select the professional who is to conduct the child custody evaluation. If the parties and attorneys cannot reach an agreement on whether a child custody evaluation is needed, the type of evaluation or the professional to conduct the evaluation, then either party may file a motion with the Court and request that the Court resolve the disputed issues.

What is the Cost of a Child Custody Evaluation?

It is important for you to take into consideration the cost of the child custody evaluation before commencing the process. You do not want to start a child custody evaluation, if you cannot afford to finish the evaluation. The cost of a social study is usually a fixed cost that is known prior to the time the social study is commenced. If the social study is conducted by an employee of Dallas County Family Court Services, the cost of the social study will be based on a sliding scale. If a private person conducts the social study, then the cost of the social study typically ranges from $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 per party.

The cost of a child custody evaluation that includes psychological testing will vary from case to case and is usually not fixed at the commencement of the evaluation. Instead, the psychologist will ask that each party pay an initial retainer. It is important to remember that this retainer may or may not cover the entire evaluation. The average cost per party is $3,500.00. The total cost, however, can be as much as $20,000.00 or more if the issues are complex and/or time consuming for the psychologist to sort through.

How is the Child Custody Evaluation Conducted?

The evaluation consists of several different components. The evaluator will usually start by asking you to complete a questionnaire that provides detailed information about you, the other party and your children. The evaluator will then schedule interviews with the parties, the children, and any significant other individuals in the children’s lives. The interviews will often be conducted individually, and jointly with the other party or parties. In addition, the evaluator will observe you and your children interacting together. The evaluator may go to your home and assess how the child or children are doing in the home and the conditions of your home.

The evaluator also gathers information from various collateral sources. You and your attorney will have the opportunity to provide information and documents to the evaluator. The evaluator will also collect information from schools, doctors, and other professionals. You will be asked to execute releases so that the evaluator can obtain these records. Finally, the evaluator will obtain information from sources such as family members, school personnel, and day care providers.

How Does the Child Custody Evaluation Affect my Case?

Child custody evaluations are given considerable weight by the Courts. In fact, the Court follows the recommendations of court ordered evaluations in the majority of cases. In short, the child custody evaluation may determine the outcome of the conservatorship, possession and access issues related to your children.