Child custody determinations are made with the child’s best interests in mind. That means that a court will take a number of factors into consideration before issuing a ruling on child custody and visitation. Each parent’s financial stability and mental health may come into play, and so, too, may any history of domestic violence or substance abuse. But sometimes it’s not so easy to tell what’s in the child’s best interests. In those circumstances, it might be best to have a child custody evaluation conducted. A court may even order one.
The basics of a child custody evaluation
A child custody evaluation is an analysis of the child and his or her parent, conducted by a licensed psychologist. As part of the evaluation, the psychologist usually interviews the child and the parents, as well as anyone else that the psychologist believes may be helpful in providing insight into the child’s best interests. These additional interviewees might include teachers, neighbors, friends, and other healthcare professionals. Psychological testing might even occur to identify any mental health concerns that may exist. At the end of the evaluation, a formal report is drafted with recommendations and submitted to the court.
Preparing for your child custody evaluation
A child custody evaluation can be pivotal to your case. Therefore, you need to be prepared for it. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you ready yourself for your evaluation:
- Be rested
- Make sure that your answers to the evaluator’s questions demonstrate a prioritization of your child
- Avoid talking negatively about your child’s other parent
- Be respectful
- Don’t get defensive
- Only answer the questions that are asked
Have a legal ally on your side
Not only do you have to be prepared for a child custody evaluation, but you also need to know how to use the results of one to your advantage. This means knowing how to build a best interests argument, even if a child custody evaluation doesn’t line up perfectly with your position. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that, then consider discussing your case with an experienced family law attorney.