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Dealing With Custody Evaluations in an Illinois Divorce

For parents of young children, going through a divorce is especially challenging. Matters of child custody, child visitation, and child support must be addressed and resolved. Under Illinois law, child custody is now officially referred to as the ‘allocation of parental responsibilities.

In determining the appropriate allocation of parenting time and allocation of parenting responsibilities, an Illinois court may deem it necessary to order a professional evaluation. Here, our Wheaton, IL child custody attorneys provide an overview of the most important things parents need to know about dealing with custody evaluations.

Illinois Child Custody Evaluations: Understanding the Basics

In Illinois, a custody evaluation will not be required in every case. Most custody issues are resolved without an evaluation. Generally, a custody evaluation will be ordered when a judge determines they need more information to make a final allocation of parental responsibilities.

As explained by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), these evaluations are sometimes referred to by the shorthand term 604(B) evaluation. When appropriate, a qualified evaluator — typically a trained mental health professional — will be appointed to investigate and draft a report. Some of the specific methods an Illinois child custody evaluator may use during a study may include:

  • Conducting an interview of each parent;
  • Conducting an interview of the child;
  • Interviewing other friends or family members;
  • Doing a ‘home-study;’
  • Reviewing relevant documents and records; and
  • Performing psychological tests.

A custody evaluation is generally more extensive and more invasive than a review, which involves a guardian ad litem. At the end of the process, the 604(B) evaluator will draft and submit an official report to an Illinois family law judge.

Evaluators May Make Recommendations 

Within their report, a custody evaluator may make a specific recommendation based on their findings. They may decide to present information without including their personal assessment. Under Illinois law, judges must consider the findings and recommendations made by the custody evaluator. The custody evaluator has no legal authority to make a final decision on the allocation of parental responsibilities. That decision is always left in the hands of a family law judge.

Prepare for an Evaluation with an Attorney

Going through a custody evaluation can be stressful, overwhelming, and intimidating. It is important to remember the evaluator is a neutral party. When interacting with the evaluator, it is typically best to take an open, forthright approach. At the same time, you also need to be ready to protect your parental rights. If a custody evaluator has been appointed in your case, it is highly recommended you consult with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney right away.

Speak to Our Illinois Child Custody Lawyers Today

At Keller Legal Services, our Illinois divorce attorneys have extensive experience handling the full range of child custody cases. If you need help dealing with a custody evaluation in Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team today for a free, fully private initial consultation. With office locations in Wheaton, Aurora, and Naperville, we serve parents throughout the region.