Custody Evaluation

Custody Evaluation


In contested custody issues, a parent can request or the Court may order a Parenting Plan Evaluation (formerly referred to as Custody Evaluation) under Minnesota Statute 518.167 subd. 1. Through this process, the Court can best decide custody and parenting time.

A parent’s opinion on what custody or parenting time arrangement is best for the child or children may or may not be consistent with the law. Generally, there are multiple ways to serve the child’s best interests and provide for the child’s needs. Two parents may have completely different opinions about what is in the child’s best interests. This presents a difficult situation for the Court.

A Parenting Plan Evaluation is performed by a neutral evaluator who has been appointed by the Court to conduct an independent investigation and to make recommendations based on the “Best Interest Factors” set forth in Minn. Stat. §518.17.

A full custody evaluation can take up to 6 months complete and involves an investigation, written report and testimony (if necessary). The Court often relies on the Custody Evaluators’ recommendations, which is why it is important you and your’s child’s parent’s attorneys choose a fair and capable CE.

Custody Evaluation Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Custody Evaluator do?

The goal of a Parenting Plan Evaluation (PPE) is to provide impressions, observations, and recommendations from an objective, professional resource as to the best interests of the children involved. The intent is that these recommendations will serve as a basis for settlement negotiations between the parties and/or attorneys.

A Custody Evaluator learns about you, your child or children and your unique circumstances and needs. After a thorough investigation, the custody evaluator makes written recommendations based on the best interests of your child as defined by Minnesota law.

A Custody Evaluator’s recommendations are not legally binding; however, the Court often relies heavily on recommendations. This is why most cases settle after the Custody Evaluator’s recommendations are received.

Who Hires a Custody Evaluator?

A Custody Evaluator is selected by the parties (and their attorneys) and appointed by Court Order. A parent alone cannot appoint Custody Evaluators. They must be chosen through the Attorneys recommendation.

What are the steps of a Custody Evaluation?

Ms. Lallemont’s Custody Evaluation services are broken into three billable phases.

  1. Investigation: This phase includes:
    • interviews with each parent;
    • interviews with children of sufficient age;
    • home visits to observe the child(ren) with each parent;
    • interviews of collateral references who have direct knowledge of the family’s situation (e.g., children’s teachers and school specialists, daycare providers, primary care providers, mental health providers who work with children and/or parents);
    • interviews of personal references who have direct knowledge of the family’s situation (e.g., close friends or family members);
    • review of relevant documents (e.g., family court file, school records, criminal history records)
    • In some cases, parents and/or children may be asked to complete additional evaluations or assessments.
    • The investigation phase ends with verbal recommendations presented to the attorneys (or to the parties if they are self-represented).
  2. Written Report: At the conclusion of the investigation, Ms. Lallemont will draft a written report of her findings.
  3. Testimony: If the case goes to trial and Ms. Lallemont’s testimony is needed, either party may subpoena Ms. Lallemont to appear in court to testify about the recommendations in her report.

Because of the amount of information that must be gathered and analyzed, Custody Evaluations typically take 90-120 days. The cost for evaluations varies, depending on the complexity of the issues involved, and whether a report or testimony at trial or deposition is necessary. Ms. Lallemont requires a conference call with attorneys for both clients to discuss the estimated cost of a particular case.

What information is included in the Custody/Parenting Time Evaluation Contract?

Why Hire Angela Lallemont for Your Alternative Dispute Resolution?

10+ years of family law experience
Certificate in Trauma Informed Advocacy from Mitchell Hamline Law School
Rule 114 Qualified Neutral in Mediation, SENE and FENE
Trained Custody Evaluator through Minnesota Mediation Center