A child custody evaluation can take several forms. It may be conducted by a counselor working for the court system, or a private counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist. It may be part of a Divorce Action or a Custody Battle.
In whatever form the child custody evaluation takes place, the "Don'ts" remain the same:
1. One of the major "Don'ts" is not to focus too much on your family background and childhood. Don't focus on problems, issues and unhappy incidents which occurred in your past. They only tend to make the Evaluator more concerned about your health as a parent today when, in fact, they may have no relevance at all to your stability and health as a parent.
2. If you are required to take written tests, such as the MMPI or the MCMI, be careful not to appear too good. Admit your faults and mistakes. These tests have a "truth factor" built into them and if you appear too perfect, the test results will be invalidated.
3. Don't worry too much about the test results. The vast majority of test participants fall within the "normal range." If your results should fall out of the normal range, be certain you have an attorney familiar with the testing. Attacking the validity of the results is not that difficult and often the results can be thrown out as unreliable evidence.
4. Don't respond to any questions by the child custody evaluator in an angry or impatient manner. They are just trying to do their job and even though some of the questions seem redundant or unnecessary, think of the evaluator like a police officer - there is no need to irritate them, it will only make matters worse.
5. Don't dominate the conversation with the evaluator. Let them take control of the evaluation. You want them to like you. Let them ask the questions and lead you where they want you to go with your conversation. Don't try to just "tell your story." They don't want to hear your version.
6. Don't appear impatient, in a hurry, or bored with the process. Don't keep looking at the clock, checking your cell phone (which must be turned off) or use physical gestures like tapping your finger, playing with a pen, moving your leg or foot etc. You want to appear calm, collected and in a mood to give the custody evaluator as much time as they feel they need with you.
7. Never settle your case, or go to trial without having plenty of time to go over the Child Custody Evaluator's report results for you and the other parent. If you take the time and money to go through the evaluation, you should certainly use the report to guide you either into a settlement or to prepare you for what may be expected at trial.
Child Custody Evaluations will make or break your case and your chances of winning substantial time with your children. Take them with the utmost seriousness and attention. Read everything you can about them before the process begins.
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