Often times, there is less conflict but still some dispute over the time-sharing and custody of the children. In many cases, the parties cannot afford the appointment of an outside psychologist. In these situations, the case will be sent to Court Clinic in those counties where it is available. Court Clinic is a court program designed to help families through these difficult disputes. The first step in the Court Clinic process is mediation. This is a very good time to work out your differences. If you can, you will leave the mediation with a written agreement that will be filed with the Court. If you can’t, then you move to the next phase of custody evaluation.
Court Clinic will have counselors and psychologist on staff who will conduct a custody evaluation. This will include meetings with the parties, the children, extended family, significant others, and anyone else involved in the care of the children. It will also include psychological testing of the parents and the children. These tests are often given to significant others living in the home with the children as well. The process is very invasive. In addition, it can take 6 months to a year to get the final Court Clinic Recommendations due to the large number of cases on the Court Clinic caseload.
Upon the completion of the evaluation, Court Clinic will submit its findings to the judge. The judge will generally follow those recommendations. However, a party can file objections to those recommendations. At this point, the objecting party will often need to get their own expert to dispute the findings of court clinic.
In short, contested custody is very stressful for everyone involved, including and most importantly, the children. Contested custody is also very expensive. On many occasions, small disputes begin to grow until there is outright war between the parties. These cases spiral out of control very quickly as emotions and resentment build. If at all possible, you should avoid going down this path. Working out your differences with your ex will save you and your children a lot of stress and grief. And if that is not enough, it may save you from financial ruin.