Custody Evaluations – 5 Tips For Presenting Your Case Successfully

Custody, or parenting time evaluations, are frequently performed by a forensic psychologist at a separation or a divorce between two people, when there is some question as to the fitness of one of both parents to fully parent the child or children. One common scenario is a parent being concerned about the drug or alcohol use of the other parent. These evaluations are invasive and often difficult, but they are typically fairly solid in court and if you have legitimate concerns, they can be a way to help secure your children’s security and safety. The results and recommendations of the evaluation can be written in to court documents, providing further foundation for enforcing certain rules and restrictions that can help keep your children safe when they are with the other parent, or should the problems and concerns be severe enough, they may provide basis for keeping the children away from an unsafe parent altogether. Here are 5 tips for presenting your case for custody to an evaluator:

1. Present facts, not opinions to the evaluator during interviews. This means avoiding “diagnosing” your partner or making too many interpretations of behavior. Stick as much as possible to the facts — the who, what, when and where of the behavior you are concerned about.

2. Try not to get over emotional. This is a traumatic time and being upset is expected – however if you are crying throughout every meeting, the evaluator may begin to question your emotional stability. Feel free to express hurt, but keep your mind firmly focused on your children and their well being and best interests.

3. Present your facts and information framed in reference to the impact on the children. While you avoid diagnosing or giving too many opinions, you can express what concerns you about the behavior in reference to the negative impact on your kids. For example, if your partner has a drug problem, you can express concern over impairment while caring for kids, the kids finding drug paraphernalia, and the legal ramifications should your partner be caught.

4. Be honest about your own shortcomings. If you omit any wrongdoing on your part, surely your partner will be eager to fill in the gaps. When you do present your mistakes, again frame them in reference to impact on the children and demonstrate your understanding of why the activity was harmful or potentially harmful to your kids. For example if you had an affair, explain that this injected a note of chaos and disharmony into your home life, and you understand that this was a negative impact on your children. And of course, be sure you are not repeating damaging behaviors during your evaluation.

5. Keep records and update the evaluator as new incidents occur. Evaluations can take many months to complete, so be sure to log any new incidents as they occur and inform the evaluator via phone or email.

Are you interested in addressing the challenge of divorce from a holistic standpoint, assessing the physical, emotional, practical, and relationship components?