Ann Fabrikant, Esq.NJ Divorce and Family Law Attorney
Custody evaluations are rather common occurrences in my profession but they can be downright nerve-wracking for my clients. Their fate lies in the hands of evaluators with considerable weight behind them, bestowed upon them by the family court. I find it is best to meet with my clients beforehand. If they know what to expect, they tend to fare better.
To further prepare potential clients for future evaluations, I have come up with a list of do’s and don’ts. Consider this a guide for proper conduct during custody evaluations.
- DO: Arrive on time for your custody evaluation interview.
- DO: Dress neatly and conservatively.
- DO: Tell the truth. Custody evaluators will corroborate your statements with other sources. It is also important to be honest if the custody evaluator uses psychological testing. Their tests are designed to detect defensiveness. In all cases, be sincere and refrain from overstatement.
- DO: Show emotion. Most people do. It is alright to be nervous.
- DO: Pay attention to what the evaluator is asking. When answering, take your time. If you do not understand a question, ask them to explain.
- DO: Provide the custody evaluator with any documentation as promptly as possible, if requested. If you cannot do so, let him or her know.
- DO: Inform collateral contacts that they may be contacted, so they are prepared to speak on your behalf.
- DO: Be your best self. Try to relax and exhibit patience, humor and all the best qualities desired in a parent.
- DON’T: speak poorly of your spouse/partner. Wait for the custody evaluator to ask about any problems between the two of you. Refrain from threatening comments as well.
- DON’T: bombard the custody evaluator with phone calls.
- DON’T: visit the evaluator’s office without making an appointment first.
- DON’T: coach your kids to speak negatively about the other parent. Evaluators can tell when this is happening.
- DON’T: make derogatory remarks about the other parents or the other parent’s family, especially not to or in front of the children.
- DON’T: refuse to talk to the other parent regarding the child, or worse, use the children as messengers.
- DON’T: involve a new significant other in the custody dispute.
My list is hardly exhaustive. If you require representation for a custody matter, there is much for us to talk about. All the tools you will need for your evaluation are just a click away. Contact my office to schedule an appointment.