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DecisionsJudge disregards forensic evaluation recommendation, upheld on appeal

June 15, 2020

Matter of Dawn S. v Michael L. Y. should serve as a warning (or inspiration, I suppose, depending on which way you look at it) to parties reluctant to settle, especially after receiving the report of a forensic psychological evaluator.

The lesson to be learned is that the Judge issues the ultimate decision. The forensics report is meant to provide information to the court, but their recommendations are not outcome determinative.

Let’s say the forensics report recommended “joint custody” (which I suspect by virtue of the discussion about equal-shared time between the parents) but the mother would not agree (which I suspect based upon the fact presented that the mother changed the child’s school without consulting the father). This case then serves as a warning to similarly-situated litigants that the Judge gets to make a determination that is based upon their view of the best interests of the child, and there is absolutely no guarantee under those circumstances that you could not walk away with less than joint custody. Because this mother just did.

Let’s say instead that the forensics report recommended custody to the mother. Well, then this case is an inspiration to fathers who would otherwise bow out and concede the point. You still have the trial and the unknown issue of the discretionary determinations of the judge, you can use this as leverage, though to what end is really fact-specific.

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About the author:

Founder and Principal Attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Greenberg LLC, Middlesex County, NJ. With an unwavering commitment to guiding individuals through the complex and emotional landscape of divorce and family law matters, Bryan stands as the founding attorney of Law Office of Bryan Greenberg. Backed by years of legal expertise and a deep understanding of Middlesex County's legal landscape, Bryan is dedicated to offering compassionate yet pragmatic solutions to every client's unique situation. Through insightful blog posts, Bryan shares valuable insights, tips, and advice on navigating the challenges of divorce and family law, helping individuals make informed decisions during these critical life transitions. For comprehensive legal guidance and empathetic support, turn to Bryan Greenberg and the team at the Law Office of Bryan Greenberg.

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