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How evaluations are used in Illinois child custody decisions


Many children in Illinois are a part of families with separated parents. In these situations there is often a child custody order that states who has the authority to make decisions regarding the child and where the child will live. These orders also state when each parent will have parenting time or visitation with the child.

In Illinois, child custody determinations are based on what is in the best interests of the child. These determinations are always straightforward and many times judges are asked to make these decisions with limited information about the child. Due to this fact, evaluations of the child are done by trained professionals to help the judge make the custody determination.

The court can seek the help from these professionals on its own or one of the parents can request that an evaluation be completed. If it is the court who seeks the help of a professional, any advice given to the judge must be in writing and provided to each party. Either party can call the professional as a witness and examine their opinions on the matter.

If one of the parties requests an evaluation, the judge can appoint an evaluator to conduct the evaluation. The identity of the evaluator and the time and place of the evaluation must be disclosed to both parties. Within 21 days of the evaluation, the evaluator must provide their written findings to each party and the court. These include the results of any tests that were administered and the evaluator's opinions and conclusions.

Child custody determinations in Illinois can be very complicated. Each situation is unique and determining the best interests of a child can be difficult. Therefore, professional evaluators can be utilized to better analyze what is best for the child and which parent should have custody. Experienced child custody attorneys understand the complicated nature of these matters and may be a useful resource as one goes through the legal process.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Illinois Compiled Statutes," accessed on March 9, 2015

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