What is a Custody Evaluation?
A child custody evaluation is the legal process wherein a court appointed mental health expert, social services evaluator, or home inspector evaluates your family, your home, or both. He or she then makes a recommendation for child custody based on the results of the evaluation. This may include residential custody, visitation recommendations and a scheduling plan.
The idea of a custody evaluation can be daunting, and you may worry about how to prepare. If your intentions are focused on your children, and you are caring for them as best as you can within your means—you’re off to a great start. Prepare by making sure your home is clean, your refrigerator and cupboards are not bare, and that your children have beds with blankets and sheets. The simple things in life that some take for granted are the most important and are what the evaluators will want to see in your home.
Signs of a Bad Custody Evaluation
Sometimes a child custody evaluation results in a negative report, despite your best efforts. You think you’ve done everything right, your children are healthy and happy, but your investigator disagrees. This may be a sign of bad evaluation practices on the part of the investigator.
5 things that your investigator should not request, report, or demand are:
- That you and your spouse should never say anything negative about the other parent, and if you do then you will lose custody. This demand, or requirement, is unfair and diminishes the importance of your emotions. You cannot be expected to never show emotion, especially in such a difficult time.
- That your ex’s behavior is allowed, but that yours is not. If you and your ex are doing or saying similar things but the investigator is clearly favoring one over another, that is grounds for further examination on your part. If the investigator has a clear favorite and their mis-behavior is going unchecked, you have a right to say something.
- That things “out of bounds” will be evaluated, such as assessing your home, or your psychology, when that is not their field or when they weigh something with heavy importance that is not part of the evaluation.
- That they need to spend more or less time with one parent over another. An inequality of time spent in evaluations can change the outcome of their judgement. If the “favorite” parent is not given a thorough evaluation, there is a possibility that the evaluation is inaccurate and detrimental to the stability of your children’s care. In contrast, if the favorite is given substantially more time, then that parent can sway the investigator’s opinion and result in his or her favor.
- That one parent is all good or all bad. Absolutes do not exist in the world of parenting and should not appear in custody evaluations. One parent may bring out the worst in another, but that does not mean that the “bad” parent is bad 100% of the time. Your assets and your weaknesses should be included in your report, as should your ex.
Be Prepared with Help from Our Team
When you are at the end of the rope with your marriage, and there is no hope for reconciliation, it is time to talk about divorce. It helps to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side from the beginning. Our divorce and child custody attorneys at the Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes, APC can work with you as you go through the legal process and can act as logical counsel in the most emotional of times. We can help you to make sure your child custody evaluation is done fairly, and legally, and if not, we will fight for you. We understand that you need someone to stand up for you when you may not be able to fight for yourself, or your children, due to the confusion and emotion associated with this event. Let us walk with you through your divorce so you can focus on the future.
Contact our firm at (619) 577-4900 today.