Focusing On Family Law – And You
Child custody disputes that play out in court are oftentimes referred for a child custody evaluation. While either party can request this evaluation, the court sometimes orders it on its own since it wants an objective assessment of the family’s dynamics and what’s best for the child.
Therefore, if you’re about to be part of a child custody evaluation, you need to know what to expect. Let’s take a closer look.
What goes into a child custody evaluation?
These evaluations are typically conducted by mental health experts. Their goal is to provide the court with a written report that analyzes the family’s relationships and parenting abilities while making a recommendation about a custody arrangement that supports the child’s best interests. The evaluation itself may include the following:
- Interviews with the parents
- An interview with the child
- Interviews of family member, friends, and school personnel
- A review of pertinent education and medical records
- Observations of parenting time
- Psychological testing
Although the evaluation is supposed to be comprehensive, glaring deficiencies in any one of these areas could end up being dispositive. That’s why you need to be prepared going into the process.
What can you do to prepare?
There are some things you can do to ready yourself. For a parenting time observation, for example, try to have an activity planned where you can demonstrate the bond you have with your child. Also, during this visit make sure that you have a firm but fair and natural parenting style.
For the interview, make sure that you’re open and honest with the evaluator while refraining from talking poorly about the other parent. Remember, anything you say can make it into the report and find its way to the judge.
Be prepared to advocate
Regardless of the outcome of the evaluation, it can be challenged in court. So, you’ll still need to be ready to advocate for your position in your child custody dispute. So, read up on child custody cases and be sure to craft the persuasive arguments that you need on your side.