A custody evaluator is a neutral who evaluates the family situation in a family law matter. S/he uses the best interests of the child(ren) analysis to review and make a recommendation and report. This recommendation will advise on custody labels and parenting time.
A custody evaluator is either agreed to by the parties or assigned by the Judge.
Judges typically hold the evaluator’s report in high regard and seldom deviate from the evaluator’s recommendations.This makes it critical to do what you can to make sure you get the most favorable evaluation you reasonably can.
Working with a Custody Evaluator
Three good rules of thumb when working with a custody evaluator:
- Be Open,
- Honest, and
Custody evaluators are often experienced in dealing with family law matters. They know what information is needed and where to get it from. It is often not helpful to conceal facts from them as it will only make you appear that you’re trying to hide something.
Along the lines of providing information, make sure to give the evaluator any information that may be needed to make an informed decision. This includes providing information, even if that information doesn’t make you look good.
If it works against you, you can be assured that the other parent will certainly be bringing it up to the evaluator. Therefore, it’s best to be up front about it and let the evaluator know how you’re trying to make it better, if possible or what you’ve done to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.
In addition, custody evaluators are experienced at detecting lies and at knowing what questions to ask and what other information to look at to test whether a party is being truthful. Remember that the evaluator will be more experienced than you at this and if you get caught in a lie, the evaluator may question your credibility in other areas.
Lastly, if you’re not cooperative with the evaluator’s requests, it will make you appear either dishonest or just plain unlikable. The evaluator will have concerns regarding your character and this may translate into concerns regarding how your possible behavior will impact your children.
Custody evaluators respond to anger, hostility, and deception like most people do in other life situations. Obviously having your parenting evaluated is going to be stressful and it’s easy to fall into the trap of being defensive or being tempted to lie about the situation.
Remind yourself that it is the evaluator’s job to make recommendations based on what he or she believes is best for your children. Try your best to show and help the evaluator understand that what you’re requesting is reasonable, supported by the facts of your situation, and consistent with that evaluation.