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Child Custody Evaluation & Preparation

While custody evaluators proceed with the child custody evaluation as they see fit, there are common aspects of child custody evaluations you should be aware of. This page details some of the most common aspects of child custody evaluations


Some child custody evaluators will provide each parent with a questionnaire in advance of their first meeting (or it may be presented at the first meeting). Some child custody evaluators do not use any written questionnaires. If you are provided with a questionnaire in your case, please provide us with a clean copy as soon as possible and let us know when the child custody evaluator expects it to be completed. We can help you revise your responses so that we can be assured that you have thoroughly presented your concerns and position to the child custody evaluator. Your completed questionnaire may be discovered by the other side at the conclusion of the child custody evaluation and is a likely source of questions for the other side to question you on, so your answers should be reviewed by your child custody attorney.

Your Request for Parenting Time

If your request for parenting time was not addressed in the evaluator’s questionnaire then your requests may be addressed orally. Your request for parenting time and decision making should be thoughtful and supported with facts that are unique to your case.

Materials for Child Custody Evaluator’s Consideration

You may prepare an exhibit notebook containing a summary of events or timeline, correspondence between you and the other party, and documents that are relevant to the best interests of your child. These documents may include: school records, medical records, school report cards, maps showing distance between homes, etc. Whether or not you decide to provide the custody evaluator this information is a decision that should be made between you and your attorney; further, all information supplied should be reviewed by your child custody attorney. If you decide to provide the evaluator this information, you must be aware that it may be provided to the other side during, or after the child custody evaluation.

First Meeting

The first meeting with the child custody evaluator is usually conducted in their office and is intended to allow the evaluator to establish some of the basic facts of the case. However, some child custody evaluators will decide to dive in deep during the first meeting. Be prepared at the outset of the evaluation to address all aspects of your case.

Home or Parent-Child Interaction Visit

Most evaluations include the evaluator observing each parent and child interacting through playing a game or completing a task like making lunch. The interaction visit may occur during a home visit or may occur in the evaluator’s office. Home visits are to be scheduled in advance and you should ensure your home is in good shape for the visit.

Psychological Testing and Review of Results:

If psychological testing is part of your custody evaluation you may have the opportunity to review the results with the evaluator. The evaluator’s review of the results with you is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your ability to be introspective, open to feedback and growth. This is also an opportunity to ask for clarification about what the results mean and how to use this information to be an effective co-parent.

Follow Up

You have the opportunity to follow up with the custody evaluator in any manner should the need arise. If you remember a relevant detail after meeting with the evaluator then your options for bringing this to the evaluator’s attention should be considered. Also, if a meeting with the evaluator goes poorly and you may want to mitigate the negative aspects with following up with the evaluator. Again, whether or not to follow-up – and the manner by which you conduct the follow-up – is a decision that should be discussed with your child custody attorney.

Evaluator’s Recommendation

The child custody evaluation will conclude with the evaluator issuing a written report detailing the observations, interviews, and recommendations as to what they believe is in the child’s best interests. The report should be reviewed closely as soon as it is released by you and your attorney as there are deadlines that start with the issuance of the report.

Evaluator’s File

The evaluators file, including anything you send the evaluator may be discovered by the other party and used in Court. The evaluator’s file can be a source of questions for any contested hearings that may occur in your case. It is critical your attorney reviews all materials before they are presented to the evaluator.

We will discuss the different elements of a custody evaluation that may be applicable to your case when we meet. The information provided above is intended to be informative and it is not tailored to your case. Please remember throughout the custody evaluation process the evaluator has the discretion as to how they will conduct the evaluation and what they select could be very different from what is common and expected.

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