If you’ve read our Custody Evaluations Main Page, you’ll have learned that in many cases, court-appointed custody evaluators are often immune from being called to testify about their recommendations. It’s the perfect catch-22 for courts. If you can’t find the rather expense private evaluator (who may be called to testify for extra fees) and you’re ordered to go through your county’s “program,” you will likely be made to sign a waiver that indicates that you know and understand that by signing, the evaluator is not subject to being called by either side as a witness.
With that understanding, if you have the opportunity to fight a bad custody evaluation, it really boils down to this: In order to effectively contest a custody evaluator’s recommendations, it is advisable to obtain a rebuttal evaluation if at all possible. If that is not possible, at least to be prepared to bring plenty of witnesses and exhibits to trial to show the court what it was that the evaluator failed to consider or to properly analyze. Objective evidence demonstrating the custody evaluator’s failures is critical. Having a very good attorney is also extremly helpful, but not essential. Some people simply cannot afford to have legal representation and that is a shame.
This can be accomplished. I know this because I’ve done it. It helped that the evaluator’s report was simply so one-sided and completely lacked objectivity on its face that no one, not even the judge, could possibly believe all of its contents. Once we began to scrutinize it page-by-page and question the evaluator on the stand, the truth was plainly evident. The judge threw the entire report and the associated psychological test results out of the proceedings.