When parents divorce, feelings often include anger, bitterness, blame, hurt, and even revenge. And the partner who was once your friend begins to look more like an enemy. Battles over custody and visitation of the children are common. Parents are often unaware of the pain and torment divorce and custody issues may evoke in their children. Children may feel caught in the middle and blame themselves. Courts will sometimes mandate co-parenting counseling as a part of the custody agreement to help reduce the conflict the children are experiencing. If your divorce is resulting in this type of open conflict, a therapist can help you learn to communicate with your ex-partner in a proactive manner while meeting yours and your child’s needs.
When divorcing parents are unable to come to agreements about how to share custody of their children, the courts may appoint a certified custody evaluator, known as a 730 expert, to help. The evaluator is an independent expert who commits to conducting a comprehensive, unbiased assessment of the parents and the children. Typically, the evaluator reviews all relevant information and meets many times with important people in the children’s lives. If necessary, they may want to meet with stepparents, live-in partners, grandparents, and other relatives. They may request to speak to therapists, teachers and neighbors. Sometimes, psychological testing is also conducted to get additional information on emotional, cognitive, or academic functioning. A written report outlining findings and recommendations is submitted to the attorneys and court. The goal is to assist the court to decide what living and visitation arrangements are in the best interest of the children.