If you are in the middle of a child custody battle, you may be dealing with a custody evaluation as part of the court’s procedure. Evaluation meetings can be a challenge, especially when you don’t know what to do – which is something that may further complicate your case. However, it is significantly important to understand that the person evaluating your child custody case will have recommendations that are not a legal requisite in any way. But their suggestions and advice does hold a lot of weight and could very well convince the judge for or against the custody agreement that you are hoping to attain.
Going out of your way to present yourself as favorable is not a bad thing to do; it is completely natural. But as a father, you should know the following dos and don’ts of child custody evaluations.
1. Show willingness to work with your ex-wife – There are some parents who have lost child custody battles simply because they showed lack of collaborative effort and cooperation with each other. Remember that you don’t have to like your ex, but keep in mind that they are still a part of your child’s life, which is why you need to demonstrate to the court your ability to work together.
2. Speak to your child (children) about what to expect – It is never easy for a child to have feuding parents. They may also be hesitant to meet the evaluator in the fear that they may say something wrong. Clearly explain to them that the role of the evaluator is to help you and your ex-wife learn how to collaborate more efficiently, and that there is no “right” or “wrong” answers to the questions that will be asked.
3. Educate yourself about family law- refer to the laws of child custody that are relevant to the state you live in so that you will know what to expect in advance.
4. Prepare your documentation – In instances where you truly believe the safety of your children will be at stake with your partner, for example, because she has a history of physical abuse – then you should cautiously document her interactions with your children, as well as with yourself.
5. Be yourself – Don’t worry about putting on a good show. Instead, be honest and more importantly, be yourself. Be specific and answer only what was asked.
1. Do not prepare your children to say certain things – This never ends well. If the evaluator suspects that you have taught your children to say specific things, they will suspect that you are hiding something or trying to take advantage of the system.
2. Do not speak ill about your ex-wife – Avoid any chance to indulge in negative talk about your ex. The professional has heard all of it before, and it only shows that you aren’t ready to cooperate.
3. Do not go against the court orders – Lastly, be very cautious throughout the process of evaluation to ensure you are not going against any court rules or violating any orders regarding parenting time or visitation.