In complex custody litigation matters, we often use a custody evaluator to help us and the court determine what is in the children’s best interests.  A custody evaluator should be a psychologist who is specially trained and has experience with high conflict custody matters. The custody evaluator will meet with the parties independently and meet with each party and the children, often in a home visit. The custody evaluator will likely perform testing of the individuals and do a comprehensive interview of the parties. Once the custody evaluation is complete, the custody evaluator will issue a report.  Often the report makes recommendations for a custody schedule.  The APA guidelines for custody evaluations can be found here:

Most courts rely on the custody evaluation because the court does not have the time or resources to make an in-depth examination of the parties and the children. The custody evaluation helps the court (and attorneys) determine what the appropriate issues are for the custody trial to determine what is in the children’s best interests.