In close cases, it may be desirable to have a psychologist evaluate both parties and/or the child. If possible, it is best to have one professional do all of the evaluations to provide a uniform standard and level of continuity. This process is generally known as a “custody evaluation.” A custody evaluation involves hiring a mental health professional to evaluate the child’s status and developmental needs, as well as the child’s relationships with each parent. You and your spouse could agree to a custody evaluation if you both believed it would help you resolve the custody issue. If you cannot so agree, one of you may move the court to require the examination and to appoint its own psychologist to advise the court. Bear in mind, however, the potential expense associated with the decision to have a custody evaluation conducted. Plan to interview prospective custody evaluators carefully regarding their fee schedules, if you have some choice in the selection of the evaluator. The custody evaluator may be any competent mental health professional, including a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker. In our experience, the training and ideological background of the evaluator matters less than the evaluator’s understanding of children and family dynamics. As a result of the custody evaluation process, you and your spouse may learn a great deal about yourselves and your child. Having learned new things about yourself, your spouse and the child, you and your spouse may be able to consider following the recommendations of an impartial psychological evaluator rather than proceed on with litigation. Properly conducted, a custody evaluation may be conducive to settlement short of going on to trial.