Custody Evaluations – 5 Steps to Optimizing Your Presentation

Custody evaluations are a nerve wracking experience for all involved. The decisions being made are far-reaching and impact the lives of all involved. If you are having a custody evaluation or parenting time study done, it is typically because one or both parents have concerns about the parental fitness of the other. These studies are often done in the heat of a divorce or separation, and therefore there is significant emotional strain during this difficult process, which can make clear thinking challenging. Here are 5 steps you can take to present your case for custody, and put your best foot forward:

1. Stay true to the facts of the case. Keep records of all incidents or events you find questionable. Present your information as concisely and with as many details as possible, avoiding assumption or conjecture. Think of this as presenting evidence in a court trial.

2 Avoid being too emotional. You don’t want to be a robot, for that will not come across as genuine, but you do not want to be excessively emotional either. If you come into each interview in tears the evaluator may begin to question your stability. This is a difficult time; there is no need to conceal that fact, but maintain a balance.

3. Present all your facts and evidence strictly in terms of the effects on the children. For example, if your partner is engaged in drug use, explain how his or her level of intoxication or impairment is potentially (or actually) damaging to the children. Likewise, if your partner is engaged in extramarital affairs, express your concern that the tension and chaos this brings to your home environment impacts the well being of your children. Of course, if you are being abused, the evaluator will want to know this, so answer that question honestly. What you are trying to avoid is attacking your partner strictly on the basis of his or her failure as your partner.

4. Be honest about your own shortcomings. Again, present your admission of weakness or failure in terms of its potential effects on the children. Let the evaluator know that you recognize that the choices you made were unwise and that you are committed to improvement in the future.

5. Provide relevant updates as they occur. The typical parenting time evaluation can take months to complete, so you will have ample time to present further incidents of misconduct on the part of your soon to be ex spouse or partner. Send email updates, sticking to facts and impact on the kids.


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