(8 minutes)

NPR's Investigative Report by
Alix Spiegel &
featuring Dr. Reena Sommer

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A custody evaluation plays an important role in determining custody and access. Custody evaluations are being relied upon increasingly as the number of contested custody cases continues to climb. It can help parents come to an agreement on custody issues on their own or with the help of their respective attorneys. As well, a custody evaluation report will likely weigh heavily in a court's determination of custody when parents fail to reach an agreement on their own. Needless to say, considerable thought needs to be given when contemplating having a client undergo a custody evaluation. It is important to keep in mind that custody evaluations the following challenges that family law attorneys face when considering a custody evaluation:

Need More Information?

Everyone's concerns are unique. For that reason, Dr. Reena Sommer invites you to call her without obligation for a 15-minute consultation to receive some initial direction about your specific concerns. You can reach Dr. Sommer directly by calling her at 281.534.3923.

*FYI: We are not attorneys nor are we members of any bar in any state. We do not offer legal advice nor do we present ourselves as doing so. However, we do help attorneys to better represent their clients through our services as divorce strategists and divorce consultants.

When the Outcome of a Custody Evaluation was NOT What You Expected - What are My Options?

You've just completed a lengthy, stressful and costly custody evaluation. You believe that you did your best to communicate your concerns to the custody evaluator. You feel you were cooperative in making all appointments and answering the custody evaluator's questions honestly and accurately. But now, after all those weeks of waiting, you find that the custody evaluator's recommendations are very different from what you had expected.

Suprisingly, this is not an uncommon situation. Some parents are completely blind-sided by this discovery while others have some suspicion that things may not have gone the way that they had hoped they would go. Regardless of the circumstances, having a custody evaluation report that is less the favorable, the critical question that remains is - what if anything can be done about the custody evaluator's report?

When faced with an unfavorable report by a custody evaluator, many parents are inclined to either do nothing or have another independent custody evaluation conducted by another custody evaluator. Neither of these options is recommended as the first course of action. Instead, a logical and more cost effective starting point is to have your custody evaluation reviewed by a professional who has expertise in the areas of divorce, custody, family dynamics, child development and scientific methodology.

A review of your custody evaluation will determine if it was conducted in a methodologically sound manner. In other words, a proper review of your custody evaluation will identify if the custody evaluator followed the established protocols, if it was free of any obvious signs of bias and if the custody evaluator's conduct was incompliance with the code of conduct of his or her licensing body. Regarding the latter, the information contained in the custody evaluator's curriculum vitae (CV) can be thoroughly investigated to determine if he or she has the proper training to conduct custody evaluations in the first place.

A review of custody evaluation believed to have flaws is a cost effective approach to determining what the next step should be.

Dr. Reena Sommer & Associates PLLC
Houston, Texas
PHONE: 281.534.3923