A custody evaluator is a third party that can be retained in a custody or divorce. He or she evaluates the custody situation in a family law matter. He or she uses the best interests of the child(ren) analysis to make recommendations. These apply to 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. They usually perceive an evaluator as a neutral and an expert. For these reasons, judges are often reluctant to deviate from the evaluator’s recommendations.
Working with a Custody Evaluator
Three rules of thumb when working with a custody evaluator:
- Be Open,
- Honest, and
Custody evaluators are often experienced in family law matters. They know what information is needed. They know where to get it. It is often not helpful to conceal facts as, if discovered later, it will appear dishonest.
Along these lines, give the evaluator any information that may be needed to make an informed decision, even if it’s unfavorable. If the other parent knows about it, he or she almost certainly will bring it up to the evaluator. Therefore, it’s best to be up front about it. 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. They know what questions to ask. They know what other information to look for to test whether a parent is being truthful. An evaluator will be more experienced than each parent at this. If a parent gets caught in a lie, the evaluator may question his or her credibility in other areas. Also, frankly people don’t like liars.
Lastly, if a parent does not cooperate, it may appear either dishonest or just unlikable. Also, the evaluator may also choose to rely on more information provided by the other parent. At worst, the evaluator may develop character concerns with a parent. And, the evaluator may translate that into concerns that the may impact the welfare of the children.
Custody evaluators respond to anger, hostility, and deception like most people do. A parent can be stressed in an evaluation. This is normal; evaluators expect this. However, don’t fall into the trap of being defensive or lying about the situation.
As a reminder, the evaluator makes recommendations based on what he or she believes is best for your children. Try 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.
If you have more questions, please review the links to the left, head back to the MN Family Law Attorney home, or visit Majeski Law. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney, please feel free to email or call using the links in the upper right.