A Custody Evaluator is appointed by a Court pursuant to Maryland Rule 9-205.3. Pursuant to the Maryland Rule there are mandatory elements of a Custody Evaluation as set forth in 9-205.3(f)(1) and optional elements as set forth in 9-205.3(f)(2). Mandatory elements, subject to any protective order of the court, a custody evaluation shall include: (A) a review of the relevant court records pertaining to the litigation; (B) an interview with each party; (C) an interview of the child, unless the custody evaluator determines and explains that by reason of age, disability, or lack of maturity, the child lacks capacity to be interviewed; (D) a review of any relevant educational, medical, and legal records pertaining to the child; (E) if feasible, observations of the child with each party, whenever possible in that party’s household; (F) factual findings about the needs of the child and the capacity of each party to meet the child’s needs; and (G) a custody and visitation recommendation based upon an analysis of the facts found or, if such a recommendation cannot be made, an explanation of why. Optional elements include, subject to subsection (f)(3) of this Rule, at the discretion of the custody evaluator, a custody evaluation also may include: (A) contact with collateral sources of information; (B) a review of additional records; (C) employment verification; (D) an interview with any other individual residing in the household; (E) a mental health evaluation; (F) consultation with other experts to develop information that is beyond the scope of the evaluator’s practice or area of expertise; and (G) an investigation into any other relevant information about the child’s needs. Maryland Rule 9-205.3(f)(1)(G) specifically provides the custody evaluator is to provide “a custody and visitation recommendation based upon an analysis of the facts found or, if such a recommendations cannot be made, an explanation of why”.
For more information on Maryland divorce and child custody matters contact an experienced divorce attorney.