In the process of hunting for a child custody evaluator, I talked to a bunch of them. I have had eight evaluations done on me for the court, altho not all of them made child custody recommendations. I have called about fifty of them on the telephone. So I know a little bit about the process, from the parent's view. Here are my observations about the evaluators.
They like to play god. Besides the obvious cash benefits, they do what they do because they like to tell other people how to live. They view parents as incompetent morons who cannot run their own lives, and who need some shrink to tell them what to do. The evaluators are more dictatorial than a parent telling a three-year-old to goto bed. Differing child-rearing philosophies are not even open for discussion, as the evaluator is overly-opinionated and always thinks that he knows best. If you express a different view, then the evaluator will recommend counseling until you conform to his own particular prejudices.
They are extremely insecure about their work. Unlike other professionals, they are unwilling to show examples of their work. When they can get away with it, they hide their reports from anyone who might disagree. They will even try to give a report to just the judge, without the parents seeing it. It is as tho they live in fear that they will be exposed as incompetent, or that another will testify against their opinions.
They have no respect for the legal process. People accuse me of having low respect for the courts, but I think that the evaluators have even less. They have no regard for what the court might have decided, and they don't care to even learn about the relevant legal processes. They don't think that judges should have any role except to order recommendations from experts. They don't think that lawyers should be advocates for their clients.
They do not understand the role of attorneys. Some of the evaluators refuse to take a case unless the parents are represented by lawyers. They will explain that they have to do this because the parents are not objective, apparently not realizing that the lawyers are even less objective.
They fake reliance on tests. The psychologists will pretend that their process is made objective by doing standardized psychological tests, but it is all for show. They never actually use the test results to influence their recommendations. The evaluator uses the tests like the way a stage magician uses a pretty girl to distract the audience.
They have no concept of evidence. A scientist or a lawyer will collect evidence that is relevant to demonstrating whatever they want to demonstrate. The evaluators will collect lots of info, but they don't seem to understand what sorts of evidence would support what sorts of conclusions. They seem to think that they can just rely on their intuition, and the actual evidence will not matter.
They cannot describe what they do. They can describe the procedural formalities, such as the appointments and the fees, but the real object is the recommendation. They are unable or unwilling to describe how they do that. They cannot even articulate their guiding principles, if they even have any.
I should emphasize that these are generalizations based on talked to dozens of evaluators, and do not apply to all of them. For example, some of them do not seem threatened by the idea that someone else might give contradictory testimony. Some of them are probably able to describe what they do, but they just don't want to describe it for me. It is possible that those psychological tests are useful in 5% of the cases, but they don't seem to have any bearing on the vast majority of the cases.
But they all come from a mindset that says that a family court can intrude on parents' lives at any time, and use the flimsiest excuses to dictate how they will rear their kids.