If you are in the middle of a child custody battle, then it is likely that at some point you will need to undergo a custody evaluation as part of the court process. These visits are so the courts can assess which home environment is in the best interests of the child. Unfortunately, while you want to be yourself, you also want yourself to present favorably, but not in a way that is clearly just a presentation for the evaluator. When it comes time for custody evaluations, where are a few things that you should and shouldn’t do.
What You Should Do at a Custody Evaluation
- Be honest in all respects. Don’t inflate your current situation, don’t diminish your past, and don’t go far off topic. When a question is asked, answer the question honestly. In many cases, they will already know the answer and being disingenuous is not a great show of character.
- During the meeting, keep focus on your child and their best interests. That is what the meeting is about and everyone there cares about what is best for them.
- Express flexibility. Let the evaluator know that you are willing to consider different custody and visitation agreements, but also let them know why you prefer one over the other. However, your reason as to why you prefer one arrangement should be practical like you are closer to their school so school days would be easier rather than an emotional reason like bad mouthing your spouse.
- Acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses. It’s like that old question for a job interview, you want your weaknesses to be believable, but not detrimental. However, never just focus on your strengths completely, no one is perfect.
- Gather and follow-up with information. You may be asked to provide paperwork like a verification of employment or medical records about your children. If you don’t gather this information up beforehand, be prompt with providing it. It shows responsibility and reliability which can go a long way.
What You Shouldn’t Do at a Custody Evaluation
- Don’t talk negatively about your spouse. This is the most important rule. Divorces are messy, and everyone knows that you may have a number of bad feelings towards your spouse, but talking negatively about them doesn’t reflect well on you. If there are some weaknesses as a parent you need to bring up about them, even it out by stating some strengths as well.
- Don’t be late. Being on time for your appointments is the sign of a responsible person, so try to never miss an appointment. If you absolutely must, be sure to try to call ahead.
- Don’t teach your kids what to say. Children are very obvious when they are acting. If you try to teach them what to say, the evaluator will know and it will come back to bite you. Yet, if you tell your child that the evaluator is there to decide which parent they should live with, that might not turn out great either. Instead, tell your children that the evaluator is there to learn about your family and let your kids say or do whatever they normally do.
- Don’t disobey court orders. If you can follow the rules while an evaluation is pending, that doesn’t speak very well to your character. Following court rules shows a respect for the process that won’t hurt you when evaluation time comes.
- Don’t manipulate the evaluator. You are definitely not the first person to undergo a child custody evaluation, and as such the internet is filled with strategies to try to get a favorable view. However, you need to just be yourself and prove that you are a responsible and honest human being. If you play it straight with them, you will always come out in a good light.
While all these tips can help you get through a child custody evaluation, there is much more to a child custody case. If you are starting divorce filings and are looking at a potential child custody case in the Burnsville, Minnesota area, contact us today to learn what Gilbert Alden PLLC can do for you.