On behalf of The Jacks Law Group posted in child custody on Friday, September 4, 2015.
When parents divorce, child custody is often one of the contentious areas that must be decided. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the court will make its own ruling in the matter. This is usually done with a custody evaluation.
A custody evaluation is often referred to as a parenting evaluation, and it is just what it sounds like. A mental health expert will evaluate the parents, children and family as a whole. A recommendation is then made to the court on a parenting plan for custody and visitation that the mental health expert feel is in the child's best interests.
How do you prepare for such an evaluation? Here are few tips to help you:
— Understand that the evaluator may have some potential biases. Depending on how the evaluator was trained, he or she may simply want to find evidence of anger, jealousy, bitterness and high conflict. Your behavior and words could be indicative of same unless you focus on remaining calm and neutral.
— Always pay attention to what you say. Focus only on your children and what is in their best interests. Make sure the evaluator sees how organized your life is and how child-centered parenting is always present.
— Acknowledge to the evaluator that your child should have both parents in his or her life — but only if it is safe.
— Avoid talking about the breakup, current partners or other relationship issues that really have little bearing on how you are as a parent.
Preparing for a custody evaluation is also something with which your attorney can help you. He or she can determine which areas need the most emphasis during the evaluation. Your attorney will also work diligently to ensure that your rights and the rights of your children are protected during the process.
Source: The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence, “Preparing for a Custody Evaluation: A Guide for Victims of Domestic Violence,” Joyanna Silberg, PhD, Elizabeth Samson, and the DVLEAP Custody and Abuse TA Project, accessed Sep. 04, 2015