Family Law: Parenting Plan Evaluation

In order to assist the Court in determination of parenting arrangements and the entry of a permanent Parenting Plan, the Washington Court may require a parenting plan evaluation, an investigation or evaluation by a professional experienced in such matters. The evaluator may be appointed by the Court, on its own initiative, or by request of a party. In King County, the investigator may be an individual from Family Court Services, the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, or an independent professional. In some circumstances, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) may be appointed and provide input. The GAL is there to represent the child’s legal interests, independent from the parents.

In preparing the report concerning a child, the investigator may consult any person who may have information about the child and the potential parenting or custodial arrangements. Upon order of the Court, the investigator may refer the child to professional personnel for evaluation. The investigator may consult with and obtain information from medical, psychiatric, or other expert persons. Ultimately, the parenting plan evaluation will be an extensive report to the court with that experts recommendation to the court. It will be up to the court to decide whether or not to follow that recommendation.