Are you and your ex-spouse fighting over sole custody of your child. While increasingly uncommon, these kinds of battles do happen — especially when one or both parents allege that the other parent is unfit.
At some point, you can usually expect to be faced with a custody evaluation. Here are some tips to help you get through the whole process:
1. Remember that the evaluator is a neutral party
No matter who requested the evaluation, don’t assume that the evaluator will take your side. He or she is only interested in what’s best for the children — so don’t mistake politeness for friendship and don’t overshare your feelings.
2. Stick to the important things
This means under no circumstances should you discuss your relationship with your ex and his or her failings as a romantic partner or spouse. You can discuss, if the evaluator asks, why you think your ex should not have shared physical custody — but focus on his or her shortcomings as a parent.
3. Be fair to your ex
Your honesty will go a long way. The odds are good that your ex does something right with the kids, no matter how small. Give credit where credit is due and be willing to discuss his or her strengths because that will tell the evaluator that you aren’t trying to demonize your ex — just express your genuine concerns for your children.
4. Work on the impression you’re making
Be on time. Be presentable. Be gracious. Remember that the evaluator has a job to do, and it isn’t personal. If there’s a home visit, make sure your home is clean, the fridge is stocked and the kids are engaged in something other than the television.
A lot of times, it helps if you practice answering the type of questions an evaluator will ask with a friend or with your child custody attorney. He or she can point out flaws in what you have to say — or help you understand how something could potentially hurt you.