Don't Make These Mistakes With Your Child Custody Evaluation
Divorce for the parents of minor children means one thing: the issue of child custody and visitation must be decided. If you can work things out between the two of you then you are to be congratulated, but this can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and often it must be decided by the judge. Getting the assistance of a mental health expert has become commonplace and knowing what to expect could be the difference between winning custody or not. Read on to learn what moves not to make during your child custody evaluation.
Know the costs
These evaluation experts are not inexpensive, and it is not the family courts that will bear the costs. The evaluation process will also add time on to what has probably been a lengthy process. This process can vary in time and expense depending on the age of the child, area of the country and the fees of the evaluator.
In some cases, the evaluation will consist of extensive one-on-one interviews with the child, the child and each parent and sometimes interviews with other family member, doctors, and school personnel. The average child custody evaluation might cost you from about $1,000 up to more than $2,500. Knowing this, you and your spouse may want to reconsider having a veritable stranger decide on something that is so personal.
It can be easy to fall into a trap when you are dealing with something so close to your heart, both in the courtroom and during the evaluation. Once you place the decision in the hands of the expert, all you can do is demonstrate why you are such a good role model for the child. The way you speak about your spouse during the evaluation tells the expert more than you might imagine, particularly if you use this as an opportunity to sling mud at your spouse and their parenting skills.
The family court wants to know that they are not placing the child in the hands of a parent who is going to make the child have less respect for the other parent. You must want the child to spend time with the other parent, no matter how much you feel that you are best suited for child custody. You would not be in this position if the other parent were obviously unsuitable for the job.
An experienced child custody expert knows when a child has been prompted and coached to act a certain way or say certain things, and this can only make you look worse than ever. Parents who try to hover over the process have the mark of an over-controlling parent, and this is naturally seen as a negative trait.
You can and should prepare the child for the experience by letting them know about it in age-appropriate language. Keep the emphasis on the fun or informational aspects of the experience and never tell the child that where they will live is in play.
Speak to your family law attorney for more information.