If you are in the midst of a child custody dispute, you may be facing a custody evaluation as part of the court’s order. Evaluation meetings can be a hurdle, particularly when you don’t know what to do, impeding your case further. However, it is significantly vital to understand that the person assessing your child custody case will have references that are no legal requirements in any way. But their opinions and guidance hold a lot of weight and could very well influence the judge for or against the custody agreement that you are hoping to achieve.
Going out of your way to introduce yourself as favorable is not a bad thing to do; it is entirely natural. But as a loving father, you should know the following dos and don’ts of child custody evaluations.
1. Show a willingness to co-ordinate with your ex-wife – Some parents have lost custody battles solely because they showed a lack of collaborative effort and agreement with each other. Remember that you don’t have to love your ex, but remember that they are still a part of your kid’s life, which is why you need to illustrate to the court your ability to work together.
2. Speak to your kid (kids) about what to expect – It is never easy for a kid to have fighting parents. They may also be reluctant to meet the evaluator in the fear that they may say something improper. Clearly explain to them that the evaluator’s role is to assist you and your ex-wife learn how to cooperate more efficiently and that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers to the questions that will be put forward.
3. Educate yourself about your country’s family law- refer to the laws of kid custody connected to the country or state you live in so that you will know what to expect in advance.
4. Prepare your documentation – In cases where you genuinely believe the safety of your kids will be at stake with your wife, for instance, because she has a past filled with physical abuse – then you should carefully document her interactions with your kids, as well as with yourself.
5. Be yourself – Don’t worry about putting on a good show. Instead, be realistic and more importantly, be yourself. Be specific and answer only what was asked, or else it will be used against you.
1. Do not prepare your kids to say certain things – I have seen this happening to my friend – this never ends well. If the evaluator presumes that you have taught your kids to say specific things, they will assume that you are concealing something or trying to exploit the system.
2. Do not speak shit about your ex-wife – One of my really good colleagues has experienced this as well*. Avoid any opportunity to indulge in negative talk about your wife. The expert has heard all of it before, and it only shows that you aren’t willing to cooperate.
3. Do not go against the court orders – Lastly, be very careful throughout the evaluation process to ensure you are not going against any court rules or breaking any charges regarding parenting visitation or time.