Child custody evaluations (whether an interview or an observation) can be stressful. However, if you educate yourself on what to expect and follow these seven tips, your child custody evaluation should be less anxiety laden.
Do not force your views on the evaluator without his or her openness to those ideas.
1. Follow a Professional Code of Conduct
Treat the evaluator just as you would an employer or someone else in a professional environment. Arrive to the evaluation on time, dress conservatively, and speak sincerely and confidently. Remember, the evaluator has an objective role and is trained to not take sides.
2. Talk to Your Lawyer
You will have questions that the child custody evaluator may not be able to answer. For this reason, you should talk to your attorney before the evaluation to ask those questions and to get specific instructions to follow during the evaluation. You will also want to keep notes during these conversations and during the evaluation so you won’t forget to ask certain questions or provide specific details when you have to.
3. Be True to Yourself
Custody evaluators are trained to work with individuals who may be nervous about the situation, so you should not be worried if you are nervous or have a tendency to become emotional. Be honest about everything asked of you (the evaluator will check your statements) and make sure you fully understand what is asked of you. If you are unclear on anything, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.
Also, if your custody evaluation includes a psychological test, you must be honest. A test such as this will detect dishonesty and could have a negative impact on your case.
4. Do Not Provide Unnecessary Information
Pay attention to what the evaluator says and answer questions without going off topic. If you have something that you feel the evaluator must know, he or she will most likely ask you for that information at the end of the evaluation. Wait until that point – do not force your views on the evaluator without his or her openness to those ideas.
5. Interact with Your Children Appropriately
Some child custody evaluations include an observation with you and your children. During this observation you will want to be attentive to your children but you must never prep them to say certain things. If you do, chances are a custody evaluator will detect this and it will definitely have a negative impact on your case.
6. Remember to be Kind
Do your best to not speak poorly of anyone during the custody evaluation. This includes your former spouse, attorneys, or the custody evaluator. Do not ever harass an evaluator with phone calls or show up at his/her office without an appointment. The evaluator will not complete a 730 custody evaluation quicker with your prompting. Be patient and remember to be kind.
7. Provide Additional Information
You may be asked to provide documents or contact information for individuals in your child’s life (e.g., doctors, teachers, etc.). Do your best to provide this information as quickly as possible. If for some reason there is a delay in getting the information, simply notify the evaluator so he or she understands the situation. It is also a great idea, if you provide contact information to the evaluator, to let the individual(s) know that they may be contacted about your case.