Getting Through Your Child Custody Evaluation

If you and your spouse cannot seem to agree on the important issue of child custody, you may need to undergo a special type of evaluation. These evaluations are often ordered by judges to help them decide on custody matters and it allows the problem to be viewed in the eyes of a child custody specialist. These types of evaluations can be tough on parents, since the result will usually hold quite a bit of weight with the family court judge. To help you cope with this event, read on.

1. Although a child custody evaluation can be a nerve-wracking experience, be very careful about how you prepare yourself and your child for it. These experts, who are usually specially trained mental health or social science workers, are usually experienced enough to know when a child has been "over prepared". Talk to your child using age-appropriate language about the interviews by emphasizing that they will mostly be talking and playing and that mommy or daddy will be close by the entire time. Do not attempt to coach the child, since that only demonstrates a lack of confidence in your parenting ability.

2. In all likelihood, both your child, you and the other parent will be interviewed separately. Do not be tempted to denigrate your spouse's parenting skills. Everyone should hope for a custody arrangement that allows both parents to spend time with the child, and good relations between the parents, in-spite of the divorce, is a far better scenario for all concerned. A parent who wishes that for the child and is able to take a mature approach is seen as the better parent.

3. No parent is perfect, and trying to portray yourself as a perfect parent will likely backfire on you. It's much better to admit when you've made mistakes and to demonstrate that you are open to change and are flexible when it comes to making decisions about discipline and other important parenting skills. In fact, not being able to admit that you have made mistakes could make it appear to the evaluation expert that you are covering up some bad parenting behavior. Parenting is a learned skill, and showing that you have the ability to learn from your mistakes is seen as a positive attribute.

4. Know your rights when it comes to these evaluations. In spite of the appearance of professionalism and impartiality, you should stay alert for signs that the evaluation is not going well. If you begin to suspect that there is a problem, speak to your attorney at once. You likely have the right to have the expert replaced or to at least have your own expert conduct a second evaluation. Waiting until the expert has rendered an opinion may be too late. To learn more about this issue, speak with your child custody attorney.