Some parents are unable to agree on where children should live, go to school, or what parenting time schedule they should follow. In those instances, they are leaving it up to a judge to decide. That judge, who needs relevant information in order to assess such life-changing decisions, may want the parents to provide a neutral and impartial evaluation of what is in the best interests of a child.
That evaluation can be obtained through a:
- Guardian ad Litem;
- Parenting Time Evaluator;
- Custody Evaluator performs the same work as a parenting time evaluator but only looks at the issues of legal custody and physical custody.
It is rare to have a Guardian ad Litem because they are funded through the state court system that does not have the funding to provide them in family court. Should a Guardian ad Litem be obtained, each parent must pay $1,000 for the services. Parents who choose to hire a Parenting Time Evaluator or Custody Evaluator must independently pay for the services which can cost each parent $1,000 to $3,000.
Therapists, because of client confidentiality, typically will not provide the court with any custody and parenting time recommendations. Instead, they usually will provide the court with a recommendation to have the child and parents try to work through issues and disputes through therapy.
It is a struggle for couples who cannot afford these costs to acquire creative problem-solving as to how to provide the necessary information to the court.