What happens if there is a dispute between the parents about what is best for the child?
If there are any issues regarding custody or visitation that cannot be worked out between the parents, a “mediation” conference with a neutral mediator may be requested to see if you and your spouse can work out an agreement about the child.
Home Study or Child Custody Investigation.
If mediation does not bring about an agreement on disputed custody and visitation issues, the court may order a “home study.” A home study is an investigation into various aspects of the home life of the parties’ child. Included in a home study may be interviews with the parties, friends, neighbors, relatives and, on some occasions, the children themselves. When the investigation is complete, a home study report is prepared and submitted to the court. This report is confidential and the parties generally cannot have access to the report.
If, after mediation, there are still issues regarding custody or visitation that cannot be worked out between the parents, a “trial” will be scheduled. Testimony and evidence is presented at the trial to the judge assigned to a case showing what would be in the best interests of the child. Although the judge will have benefit of any child custody investigation that has been performed, the court will make its own decision about what is in the best interests of the child at the conclusion of the trial.