difficult as it may be at this time, try to separate the problems you
have with your marriage, or previous partner, from your parenting role
and responsibilities. Evaluators can be a resource of information on
books that might help, parenting classes in the community, counseling
or other areas of need and may be able to provide information on those
should be aware however that custody evaluations are not the same as
going to a psychologist or counselor; the information you share will
be put in a report for the court and others to see. You will not have
a confidential relationship with the custody evaluator. The number one
thing that you can do to help yourself during the evaluation process
is to be honest and cooperative with the evaluator. Any dishonest or
inaccurate information that you report will only hurt you.
Below are some suggestions of things to keep in mind when preparing
for your custody evaluation:
- Arrive on time at your custody evaluation
- Dress neatly and conservatively.
- Be honest. The custody evaluator will
likely check out your statements with collaterals and/or other sources
such as friends and/or other family members.
- If you provide the custody evaluator
with names of collaterals, it is a good idea to inform them in advance
that they may be contacted so that they can prepare to speak on your
- If the custody evaluator chooses to
use psychological testing, ABSOLUTELY answer honestly. The tests are
designed to detect defensiveness and lies and unless you are an expert
in psychometric testing, you are unlikely to fool them.
- Be sincere. The custody evaluator
can usually detect over embellishment and insincerity.
- It's all right to be nervous; most
- It's all right to cry and/or show
emotion; many people do.
- Answer questions directly and to the
- Make sure you pay attention to what
the evaluator is asking.
- Take your time when answering a question.
If you do not understand what is being asked, feel free to ask the
evaluator to explain what he/she means.
- If the custody evaluator asks that
you provide additional documentation, do so as promptly as possible
or communicate any concerns about getting it.
- The evaluator will usually observe
you and the children interact together. Be attentive to their needs
and focus on their interests and not yours but most of all behave
important ally in the evaluation process is your believability. You
get this by showing a balanced, even-handed approach. Don't present
only your strengths and only the other person's weaknesses.
a list of the strengths of your present position-job, economics, extended
family support, etc.
a list of the strengths of the other person's present position.
a list of your strengths.
a list of your weaknesses. Be brutally honest! Before your custody
evaluation let our office look over your list and review it with you.
Other than you, our office will be the only ones to see the list,
but it will give you a chance to practice acknowledging shortcomings
without being overly defensive.
a list of the other person's strengths. This is really important!
It is easy to concentrate on the other person's weaknesses and what
they do wrong. Here, you need to list what he/she does right.
a list of the other person's weaknesses.
a list of any false allegations you expect the other person to make.
how you might refute any false allegations and make a list of witnesses
that can help you refute them.
- Make a list of the important things
you may not have told our office and make an appointment to discuss
them with your attorney as soon as possible prior to your appointment
with the evaluator.
out a draft-parenting plan, listing everything that you want as if
you will be able to get it. Addressing:
- where the children will live,
- what schools they will go to,
- how your work schedule will allow you sufficient time to supervise
- state the schedule you propose for the other person and how that
schedule provides stability,
- how you and the other parent can work as a parenting team and what
would make that easier
cases the custody evaluator is looking at which parent is more likely
to facilitate contact with the other person. If you seem unreasonably
obstructionistic with regard to the other person's contact, it may work
a list of the "bargaining chips" that you have.
a list of which points in your draft custody plan are negotiable-
things that you want, but that you would give up to get something
also various things that you shouldn't do before, during or after the
custody evaluation. These things could reflect poorly on you and the
outcome of the evaluation:
- DO NOT
speak badly of your spouse/partner unless the custody evaluator asks
you to comment on what you perceive to be the problems between you.
- DO not
make threatening comments about your spouse/partner or anyone else
to the evaluator.
- DO NOT
harass the custody evaluator with phone calls.
- DO NOT
drop by the evaluator's office without an appointment.
- DO NOT
call the custody evaluator to see if the report is completed.
- DO NOT
coach your children on what to say to the evaluator, especially regarding
negative things about their other parent. The custody evaluator has
ways of telling if either parent has coached the children in any way.
the Evaluator May Ask:
your children's interests?
How is their progress in school?
What activities do you share with your children?
Who purchases their clothes?
- takes them to doctors' appointments?
- checks their homework?
- enrolls them in sports or arts instruction?
- prepares their meals?
- escorts them to the bus stop in the morning?
- helps them to resolve their problems?
- shares their triumphs?
Who taught your children to walk?
- to talk?
- to read?
- to count?
- who potty trained them?
What is your children's school day schedule?
- their weekend schedule?
- your work and social schedule?
- your travel schedule?
- the other parent's schedule?
What do you children like to eat?
- to wear?
- to read?
- medications, exercises or educational program have been prescribed?
Who are the children's teachers?
- neighborhood friends?
- half siblings?
Will your children express a preference? What motivates their preference?
information has been provided in an effort to help ease some of the
nervousness we know many parents feel going into the custody evaluations.
Being informed, prepared to address the issues honestly
and forthrightly and having all of your information organized
prior to your appointment can help ease the process of the evaluation.
If after reading this information, you have any further questions or
concerns, please be sure to contact our office as soon as possible prior
to your appointment with the evaluator.