Nasty, uncooperative, illegal. Red flags that’ll cause attorneys or judges on divorce/custody cases to initiate a Custody Evaluation. A Custody Evaluation is exactly what it implies, an evaluation of both parents’ ability to be functional, responsible parents to their children.
Child Custody Evaluations involve the following: separate interviews with parents, children, people you know or who know your children; psychological testing; observations (of child-parent interactions); a thorough review of everyone’s historical data (school records, health records, case-related documents, etc.).
There are some things you can’t fix, but knowing what the evaluator(s) will be looking at can help you better prepare.
Mindset Is Key
Firstly, think of an evaluation like a job interview. The way you dress and act (and, sometimes, the cleanliness of your home) matters. Anything done around or shown to the evaluator(s), people outside the family, your children, and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be used in your favor or against it. Make sure their experience with you is a positive one.
Unnecessary jabs or finger-pointing at how awful the other parent is (true or not), isn’t going to endear you to the evaluator(s). Instead, they’ll now be looking more critically at you. Anger towards the other parent heightens the likelihood of Parental Alienation, a form of child abuse. Treat your ex kindly, even if they don’t deserve it. Do it for your kids.
Furthermore, a messy appearance, place, or unkempt children in your direct care will only make you appear irresponsible. Ensure everything is taken care of before any interviews or visits.
Exercise Common Sense
Do not harass or harm your ex. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. In addition, drug abuse around the child is never okay, but if you’re willing to get professional help (rehabilitation programs, therapy, etc.), the court is willing to work with you. The legal system prefers to keep families together, as long as their home environment is safe; however, legal troubles can and will be used against you in court (so it’s best you have mitigation plans, like a twelve-step program or anger management classes).
Moreover, denying your ex the right to see their child is denying your child the right to see their parent. The court doesn’t take kindly to ongoing abuse and neither should you.
In the end, it’s about what’s in your child’s best interest. That might mean primary or joint custody with an unruly ex (or other extended family) for the remainder of your child’s childhood and a lifetime of co-parenting thereafter. Holding onto resentment will only harm your relationship with your child and could hinder your case, currently. You and your ex-to-be are your child’s world. Don’t tear their world apart out of spite. If you want an enjoyable co-parenthood and/or a favorable custody arrangement, a little goodwill goes a long way.
Check out what Family Law services SWFL Legal Solutions can offer you here.