9.7Susan M. Hais

When you and your soon-to-be-ex cannot agree on who makes the best custodial parent, you may need to participate in a child custody evaluation. Family law judges often turn to experts in the field of child psychology or social services to assist them in making decisions about child custody. It’s best to be as prepared as possible for this experience, so take a look at the tips below.

Don’t Over Prepare

The experts who conduct these evaluations are often certified by the courts and hold degrees in various mental health and social science fields. Their experience in their fields allows them to interview children, parents and other related parties and to zero in on the parent-child relationship. You can best prepare your child for this experience by using age-appropriate language to emphasize that they will be mostly talking and playing with the evaluation expert. Whatever you do, do not be tempted to “coach” your child in preparation for the evaluation; the expert will be able to tell and it will make you look suspicious.

Keep Things Civil

In most cases, you will also be interviewed and you may be asked your opinion about the other parent. This is no time to unload your negative feelings about your spouse, however. The best case scenario when it comes to child custody to have two parents who are both level-headed and wish the child to have a good relationship with the other parent, so be careful about bad-mouthing your spouse during the interview.

Perfection is Not Necessary

It is not perfection that is the goal of being a good parent, but the ability to learn from mistakes and to constantly work to improve your skills as a parent. Your ability to recognize areas where you need improvement shows the expert that you understand how parenting is evolving constantly. Furthermore, a parent who pretends to be without fault may be viewed as one having something to hide.

Be Alert for Problems

If you begin to feel that the evaluation is not going well, speak to your attorney right away. You may have the right to change to a different expert or to have a second evaluation done. Waiting until the expert gives their opinion to the judge is a mistake, so take action quickly and stay in close contact with your attorney during this evaluation experience. Contact us to learn more about child custody evaluations.