If a custody evaluator is involved in your custody case, there are basic rules of conduct that you should follow during the process.
You must take the custody evaluation seriously. Show up for your interviews with the evaluator well in advance. Never be late. Do not cancel appointments. If the evaluator visits your home, make your house clean and orderly. Make sure the dinner you cook is healthy. Have the children’s rooms tidy as well. Make sure the children’s rooms are child friendly. Make sure there is food in the refrigerator and cupboard.
Remember the evaluator is watching and evaluating your every move. For appointments at the office, from the time you exit your car until you drive away, assume the evaluator is observing you and your children. Act appropriately at all times. Before the appointment, sit near your child and interact naturally and normally. During the meeting with your child, show warmth, closeness, and good and appropriate bonding.
Cooperate with the evaluator’s requests. Sign all release forms for records. Act like yourself and don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Be honest with the evaluator both in the interviews and in any tests administered. Do not try to “beat” the tests. If you do so, the results will show deception and be deemed invalid. Do not be defensive. Do not be deceptive with the evaluator in interviews. The evaluator will perform a thorough investigation and will mostly likely catch you in any lies or exaggeration.
Do not bash the other parent. Do not overly focus on the reasons for the breakdown of the marriage, how bad the other parent is, how the other side caused the break up, or how bitter and upset you are towards the other parent. If asked about the history and breakdown of the marriage, provide information but just try to avoid attacking or casting all the blame on the other parent.
Present a positive picture of yourself. Focus on the children and their well being. How you want to work together and communicate better with the other parent to raise and make decision regarding the children. How you believe in co-parenting.
The evaluator’s questions will involve personal matters and allegations the other parent has stated against you. Again, don’t be defensive. Provide your side of the story in a factual manner and avoid stressing your anger at the other parent. If asked, you should express your concerns about the other parent, but do so in a factual manner.
In future Blogs, we will further discuss how you should deal with custody evaluations.