When you file for custody, the court will order mediation (unless there is an allegation of abuse between the parties), and require each party to attend a parenting course. Some jurisdictions complete this requirement online, others in person. In addition, other services can be requested and potentially ordered by the court in custody matters including:
Best Interest Attorney (BIA)
The court may order an attorney to be appointed to advocate for the children, after considering these factors:
The level of conflict between the parties;
Inappropriate adult influence or manipulation;
Abuse or neglect;
Mental health problems of the child and/or parties;
Alcohol or other substance abuse issues; and/or
This attorney would be appointed by a Judge and will have access to the children and information and documentation related to the children.
Fees are associated with a Best Interest Attorney and must be paid by one or both parties.
A Privelege Attorney can determine whether a child’s medical records, including any psychological records can come in as evidence. This includes possibly having the children’s medical professionals testify.
This can be the same person as the BIA, if the court orders the BIA with that authority.
Without a privilege attorney, the children’s medical records are not admissible.
Fees are associated with this attorney and must be paid by one or both parties.
This is a Licensed Social Worker employed by the Court. The social worker investigates both parties (which includes interviewing both parties, the children, collateral witnesses (such as family members, neighbors, and friends), and possibly visiting the homes of the parties). Once the information and documents are obtained, the custody evaluator will provide a report and recommendations to the court. The Custody Evaluator may also testify in court regarding their recommendation.
There is no cost if this service is ordered by the court. However, similar to having a Best Interest Attorney involved, there must be evidence that supports the need for having a Custody Evaluator involved in your case.
A private social worker appointed by the Court to help the parties work together and make decisions on behalf of their children.
A Parent Coordinator may be appointed at the conclusion of a court action, but only with the consent of the parties.
There are many ways the Parent Coordinator can assist the parties. However, the suggestions made by the Parent Coordinator must be agreed upon by the parties. Fees are associated with a Parent Coordinator and must be paid by one or both parties.
Done when requested (generally at a Scheduling Conference).
Depending on the county, the parties may be responsible for the cost.
A psychological report can be completed by a psychologist appointed by the court. The psychologist evaluates the parties and/or their child(ren). The psychologist then provides a report to the court. Like a custody evaluator, the psychologist can testify in court as to how they reached their conclusion. Fees are associated with the assessment and must be paid by one or both parties. Costs vary depending on the individual provider’s fees and the extent and scope of the evaluation.
All of the above services must be requested before or at the Scheduling Conference (which is generally the first Court appearance).
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