Child Custody Evaluation

What Is A Custody Evaluation?

If the parents cannot decide how to share parental duties, the Court may appoint a third party, to conduct a custody evaluation. That person, may be a lawyer, social worker, psychologist or guardian ad litem (acting as an evaluator) or other such “expert”. The evaluator will meet with you, your children and your spouse. The evaluator should see the children in each parent’s home. The evaluator will speak with friends and family members of the parents, the children’s daycare provider and, schoolteachers. If the evaluator believes something is wrong with a parent, the evaluator will request chemical dependency or psychological evaluations of a parent or parents.

Once all of the interviews are completed, the evaluator writes a report that considers the thirteen “best interest” factors in Minnesota Statute 518.17. The report is given to the Court and the parents. How much weight does the Judge give the evaluation? That depends upon the Judge. Some Judges rely heavily on the report and evaluation; others do not believe evaluations are necessary.

If you do not agree with the recommendations, you may take the matter to trial. Beware; once the opinions are in writing, they are very hard to overcome. That is why it is much better for the parents to decide how to parent their children, rather than a third party. Custody evaluations are a minefield for the uninformed and unwary parent.

Fathers Child Custody Rights

Unmarried Fathers & Legal Rights To Their Children

What do you mean I have no parental access rights to my child?
What do you mean she has sole legal and physical custody unless I go to Court?

Repeatedly, unmarried fathers come to us and ask these questions. The law does not treat married fathers and unmarried fathers the same. The reasons why go back a long ways, having to do with preservation and encouragement of the nuclear family.

Now, it is more common that people have children “out of wedlock.” When the child is born, the hospital will present the unmarried parents with a form entitled Recognition of Paternity. By signing the form, a legal paternity relationship is created but no parental access rights are given to the father.

The Paternity law in Minnesota gives the unmarried mother sole legal and physical custody of the child, unless there is a court order stating otherwise. With no court order in place, the mother may withhold the child from the father at her discretion. The father then must go to court and ask the court for legal and physical custody rights to his own child.

Many fathers that were not married to the mother of their child are very dismayed to find out that the mother may withhold the child at will with no custody agreement. To protect their rights, unmarried fathers should have a written custody agreement in place.