Waiting to hear the outcome of your child custody case can be quite scary, but there are ways to get through the evaluation stage with ease.
1. Take your lawyer’s advice to heart. They will explain the evaluation process to you, giving you instructions to follow. Do not take these as mere suggestions – abide by them strictly.
2. Remember the role of the evaluator. Do not assume that they will be your friend or take your side; that’s not their job. They are present solely to determine what is best for your child or children.
3. Remain honest. Honesty is the best policy and if you lie to an evaluator, chances are they will know when it’s happening. These professionals are trained to spot behaviors, particularly when someone isn’t telling the truth. If they know you’re lying, this will not show a favorable outcome for you.
4. Be prepared for every meeting. Do not cancel appointments or arrive late. If you have any questions, write them down and bring them with you so you don’t forget.
5. Focus on making a good impression. Clean your house and make sure there’s no clutter or disorganization. Have your child or children’s medical and school records available at hand, should the evaluator ask to see those.
6. Keep a positive demeanor. During the evaluation, you will be given the chance to express your concerns regarding the other parent. Choose your words carefully so you don’t appear to be gossiping about or slandering the other parent. Be objective when stating the other parent’s strengths and weaknesses. Do not, under any circumstances, make allegations about them without having evidence to support your claims.
7. Leave the problems within your marriage/relationship out of the discussion. If the other parent wasn’t a model spouse to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad parent. Telling the evaluator about the drama involved in your failing marriage or relationship won’t help your chances of winning custody and could ultimately affect the decision of the case, as it will make you seem reluctant to have a functional co-parenting relationship with the other party.
8. Be willing to cooperate with the evaluator. Answer any and all questions asked, and be sure to follow through on what is asked of you before meeting with them again. Provide contact information for people who know you and your family, and sign a release that allows the evaluator to contact them.
9. Remember the most important aspect of the case. This is, of course, what is best for your child or children. The evaluator will discuss with you what you believe is best for the child or children, so you will want to be prepared. Feel free to practice with a friend or family member. Ask them to tell you if your words show more of your best interests rather than that of the child’s/children’s.
10. Don’t forget to be your authentic self. Don’t act stiff or weird, show the evaluator the type of parent you truly are. Interact with them in a loving manner, and have their favorite activities available for them to do during the evaluation. This will help the evaluator see the typical environment the children are in when under your care and supervision.