Custody evaluations, or parenting time studies, are often court ordered
when there is a question of parental fitness in a
custody case where parents are
divorcing. These studies are frequently performed by a forensic psychologist, and
consist of parental interviews, child interviews, home visits, psychological
evaluations, and collateral reports from friends, family, and professionals
in the child's life such as doctors and teachers. The evaluator may
also order drug testing or additional interviews as necessary. Though
these studies are invasive and may last several months, they are a good
way to establish your concerns and achieve the safest and best outcome
for your child's well being. Here are 5 tips for effectively presenting
your concerns about the other parent to a custody evaluator:
Be as factual as possible. Stick with dates, times, and events as accurately as possible. Avoid putting
interpretations to actions or diagnoses on your partner.
Avoid over emotionalism. While it is appropriate to be upset over what is happening and about the
welfare of your children, don't come into every interview crying uncontrollably.
Some expression of hurt is expected, but if it is too excessive the evaluator
may begin to question your emotional stability.
Put your statements of concern or criticism of the other parent in the
context of how the actions negatively impact, or could impact, the child. For example, if your partner is having an affair, explain that the chaos
and emotional upheaval this brings into the home environment is damaging
to the children. If your partner is using drugs, explain the concerns
you have about him or her being under the influence around the children,
and leaving drugs or related paraphernalia around where the kids could find it.
Be honest about your own shortcomings. If you've done anything that could be seen as negatively impacting
the child, explain what it is and that you understand the potential or
actual effects, and make it clear you are not engaging in the behavior
any longer. If you aren't up front, the other parent will likely present
it with his or her own spin on it to discredit you.
Keep a log of any ongoing actions of your partner that concern you. As incidents occur, email or call the evaluator to keep him or her informed.
Again, stick to facts.
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