What to expect from child custody evaluations? A child custody evaluation is a process whereby a mental health professional evaluates the parenting skills and abilities of both parents to make a recommendation to the court about which parent should have custody of the children. The evaluator will meet with each parent separately and together and will also spend time observing each parent interact with the children. In some cases, the evaluator may also interview other people who are close to the family, such as grandparents, teachers, or coaches.
The purpose of a child custody evaluation is to help the judge make a decision about which parent would be best suited to have custody of the children. The evaluator will consider many factors when making their recommendation, such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable home life, their financial resources, their mental and physical health, their relationship with the children, and whether or not there is any history of abuse or neglect.
How to Prepare for a Child Custody Evaluations
If you have been ordered to participate in a child custody evaluation, it is important to be prepared for it. Here are some tips on how to prepare:
Understand the Purpose of the Evaluation
The first step is to understand the purpose of the evaluation. A child custody evaluation is not a test that you can study for, and it is not a competition between you and the other parent. The evaluator is not there to determine who the better parent is but rather to gather information about each parent’s ability to care for the children. It is important to keep this in mind as you go through the evaluation process.
Be Honest and Open
The evaluator will be asking you many personal questions about your parenting skills and abilities, as well as your relationship with the children and the other parent. It is important, to be honest in your answers, as the evaluator will be able to tell if you are not being truthful. The evaluator is not there to judge you but rather to get an accurate picture of your family dynamic.
Cooperate with the Evaluator
The evaluator will likely want to spend time observing you interact with the children. It is important to cooperate with this process and allow the evaluator to observe freely. Do not try to put on a show for the evaluator or act differently than you normally would around the children. The evaluator is looking for information about your parenting skills, not your acting ability.
Be Respectful of the Other Parent
Even if you are not on good terms with the other parent, it is important to be respectful of them during the child custody evaluation. The evaluator will be observing how you interact with the other parent, and they will be looking for signs of conflict or hostility. If the evaluator sees that you are unable to communicate and cooperate with the other parent, it could have a negative impact on their recommendation.
Prepare Your Children
The evaluator will also likely want to spend time talking to your children. It is important to prepare your children for this process ahead of time so that they know what to expect. Explain to them that the evaluator just wants to talk to them about their family and their life at home. Reassure them that they will not be in trouble if they answer the evaluator’s questions honestly.
Hire a Lawyer
If you are going through a child custody evaluation, it is important to have a lawyer on your side. A lawyer can help you understand the process and make sure that your rights are protected. They can also help you prepare for the evaluation and cross-examine the evaluator if necessary.
Going through a child custody evaluation can be a very stressful experience. It is important to have a support system in place to help you through it. Talk to your friends and family about what you are going through and lean on them for support. You may also want to consider talking to a therapist to help you deal with the stress of the evaluation.