Counselor's evaluation re: custody

In my case, the judge took some parts of the evaluator’s recommendations while throwing out other parts.

The evaluator noted that the child seemed to do better with me and that my ex wife had some serious behavioral problems. The judge, however, decided that because I work fulltime and my ex does not, the child would be better off with my ex.

The bottom line is that an evaluator’s opinion is important, but your judge’s opinion is much more important.

The judge can do whatever the judge wants to do with the evaluator’s opinion and recommendations, including ignoring them entirely. The only “rule” the judge must follow is to award custody to the party who will promote the “best interest” of the child. As to the factors and criteria that are considered and the relative weight given to each, it’s pretty much wide open.

Courts in NC (and nationally, I suspect) seem to value “continuity of placement” above all else. This means that if the father is the primary breadwinner and the mother the primary caregiver - a very common situation - the father will not get primary custody unless the mother is clearly “unfit” (i.e. a drug addict, alcoholic, prostitute, in prison, etc.) or doesn’t want the kids.

In most contested custody determinations, then, men are effectively penalized for supporting their families financially. Even if the father is “better” with the kids, it usually is not enough to convince the court to award him primary custody.

Dear mal:

Greetings. You can file a request for a child custody evaluation. I would highly recommend one if you believe that the children are being alienated from their parent. The only issue is that a child custody evaluation is rather costly. Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

Well I have went thru a wife who has done very bad things including tring to turn my little girl against me. She lied to the magistrate and had me committed for 6 days and went to dss with alligations of sexual abuse. I have very limited resources as far as the world can see. But my Father has cattle on 1000 hills. and other than my advacit her on earth that i have paid money to. I have another who pays for every thing. I went to court after not seeing my little girl for 4 months, and having supervised visitation for 5 months then went to court and the wise Judge her in forsyth county let my father put truth goggles on her.and she saw thru the lies. i now have 50/50 custody of my little girl. She also ordered a guardian ad litem to help and alsofor bothof us to have psycological evals. My father is so good. I just finished the first full week of time with my little girl. It was hard and i learned alot but i would rather do NOTHING else. You are welcome to meet My Father and my advocate. they have already payed the price.

It looks as though we may be headed for a messy custody situation. The ex says the children don’t want to spend that much time with the other parent, oddly 2 months ago they did. We realize the judge probably will not take the opinion of an 8 yr old into consideration but we hate that what could have been settled amicably is now turning into a legal tug of war with the kids as the “center knot”. Who can tell me more about having a counselor evaluate the current and prospective parenting plan and interviewing the kids.