The most difficult part of an Ohio divorce is likely a child custody evaluation. An assessment of the child’s relationships with each of the parents, along with their experiences and surroundings to determine which parent should be named a “primary” parent and who will be responsible for making decisions for the child.
Depending on their sensibilities, parents may look forward to, or despise such evaluations. They may believe that evaluators already have a preconceived notion about them and cannot be objective, or that because of their gender or financial status, a decision has already been made and the evaluation is merely a way to justify their suspicions.
Aside from the fears, evaluators will examine a number of family aspects to reach a custody determination. This post will review a few of them.
Parents’ physical and psychological health – A parent’s physical ability to care for a child is equally as important as their psychological condition. In this aspect, it is not the condition that is critical, as many disabled parents can effectively raise children. Instead, the effect on children is considered.
Continuity – For courts, stability and predictability are very important for children’s emotional growth. With that said, evaluators will examine how each parent provides a stable and healthy environment.
Relationships – In the same vein, it is important that children be able to maintain relationships with extended family members and other influential people.
Problem solving – Evaluators will also look at how parents resolve conflict. This extends to conflict between siblings, other authority figures, and most importantly, between each other.
For other elements that custody evaluators consider, and how they fit into an overall custody recommendation, check back to see our future posts.
Source: AACAP.org, Summary of the practice parameters for child custody evaluation