Child custody can be a controversial issue; it is common for both parents to want physical custody – or for one parent to seek sole custody over a joint custody arrangement.
The disagreements can go on and on, and that means the court has to intervene with the custody evaluation process. A custody evaluator is appointed, or hired, to review the situation and create a report that the court uses to determine what is in the best interest of the minor child.
It is best to cooperate with the custody evaluator in every way possible. How you interact with the evaluator is going to carry a lot of weight in the evaluation – even though the relevant statute doesn’t reference your conduct during the process.
Here are some things you should keep in mind when working with a custody evaluator:
- They will sometimes make you feel that they are on your side. This is so you will put your guard down. Never ever make the assumption that the evaluator is on your side.
- Keep in mind that they are human, and will react adversely to certain personalities. If you’re honest and open, then that is going to work in your favor.
- The custody evaluator doesn’t care about who the good guys and the bad guys are. It is what is best for the child that concerns them.
- Do not argue with the custody evaluator. You need to make eye contact and listen to them. You need to establish rapport with them, so it may help that you nod your head in acknowledgment of what they are saying. If you disagree, disagree nicely. You need to get your own points across so that they are considered.
- Provide the evaluator with all supporting documentation, and any other documents that may be requested. It is also important to provide these documents in a timely manner.
- If there are any collateral contacts, provide the evaluator with their names. These are individuals that are aware of your competence as a parent, and can vouch for the weak points of the other party.
About 95% of the time, the judge will adopt the recommendations of the custody evaluator. We’ve successfully tried many cases, however, in which we were able to discredit the opinion of the evaluator and gain an award of custody in favor of our client. Still, the odds are against if the report comes back in favor of your spouse. For obvious reasons, it is critical to have the custody evaluator on your side.