Parents in divorces or contested custody proceedings may have to participate in a custody evaluation. The purpose of an evaluation is to provide the finder of fact with recommendations as to how to award custody and/or parenting time based on the “best interests of the child” standard.
To complete the evaluation, the custody evaluator will gather information about each parent, people who have significant relationships with the child, and even visit their respective homes. The process is not a quick one and can raise tensions during the process, because some parents do not agree that their parenting should be “evaluated.”
Regardless of how you feel about the specter of a custody evaluation, it is essential to be prepared. This post will highlight a few things that custody evaluators look for.
Stability – Family court judges want kids to grow up in stable, consistent environments. If stability in the home is a question, this could be viewed a red flag.
Willingness to compromise – The question of how willing a parent is to promote the child’s relationship with the other parent is also central to an evaluator’s findings. Family court judges decree that children need both parents in their lives, regardless of who is awarded primary custody. As such, custody evaluators look for measures of compromise between parents, so that children are not adversely affected by co-parenting squabbles.
Relationships – Indeed, the child’s relationship with each parent is important, but a custody evaluator will also look at the relationships the child has with extended family members; including aunts, uncles, and especially grandparents.
If you have additional questions about how to prepare for a custody evaluation, an experienced family law attorney can advise you.