Custody evaluations are inherently scary. The notion of someone who barely knows you making powerful recommendations to a Texas family court about how you may parent your children hardly seems fair, but it is a very common part of a divorce or custody dispute.
Because of how important evaluations are, it is important for parents to understand how to best prepare for them. Through this post, we will identify a few tips that can help make the process easier.
Know the evaluator's role - The evaluator's job is to objectively assess the family's dynamics to determine what is in the child's best interests according to Texas law. He or she is not going to take sides, and is not there to find out who is the "best" parent.
Honesty is the key - Custody evaluators, like family court judges, are trained to read cues associated with lying. This includes inconsistent statements and body language. If an evaluator believes that you are not being truthful, or are intentionally misrepresenting facts, this can hurt you in the final analysis.
Leave personal issues out - The evaluator will ask you questions about the other parent's parenting skills (e.g. what are their strengths, how do they communicate). This is not an opportunity to lambaste them with your personal issues. So if the other child's best interests cheated on you or had terrible bathroom habits, an interview with an evaluator is not the time to reveal these issues.
Listen to your attorney - Most importantly, follow your attorney's advice, whether it be to have a positive attitude, to focus on cooperation, or to do your best to make a good first impression.
Source: About.com, How to prepare for a custody evaluation