When parents cannot agree on custody arrangements for their child in a divorce, a judge will likely order a custody evaluation to determine what is in the best interests of the child.
What to Expect When Speaking to a Child Custody Evaluator
During a custody evaluation, the person assigned will speak to the parents and child separately. As a parent you can prepare by considering the following:
Be prepared to discuss your relationship with the other parent. You may be asked about how you and your spouse met, your married life, and the circumstances leading up to your separation.
The evaluator will want to know how you and your spouse handled custody – who does the child spend time with and how are responsibilities shared – during the marriage and more recently during a separation if applicable.
Because there are likely other family members that are important to the child, an evaluator may ask about the child’s relationship with grandparents, step and half siblings. How often does the child see family members and where do they live?
When speaking to the evaluator, it is important to be reasonable, articulate and flexible when discussing a potential parenting plan. It is best to focus on the child’s best interests while keeping any animosity of dislike toward the other parent to a minimum.
When asked about a parenting plan, be ready to present a few best case scenario plans, articulating how they will benefit the child. Prepare for other proposals that may not align with your thinking and how you will respond to them.
You may be asked about concerns that you have regarding the other parent and his or her proposed parenting plan. It is wise to stay focused on the present, only using past incidents to shape what might be in the child’s best interest now. For example, if you are more comfortable handling a child’s transportation to and from school, your reason might be that the other parent travels for work, not ticking off all the times he or she has been unreliable.
An evaluator may turn the tables and ask a parent to address concerns that the other parent may have about them. Divorce is a two way street and it is seldom the fault of one person. Acknowledging responsibility for some of the issues signals a willingness to work cooperatively toward solutions serving the best interests of the child.
Carefully select and bring contact information for people you think the evaluator would benefit from talking to and why you think they have a good grasp of the situation. Sometimes friends and family members can speak to what is in the best interests of the child.
If you are considering divorce and have concerns regarding the custody of your child, it is important to work with an experienced child custody lawyer. Contact the Wisconsin family law attorneys at Probst Law Offices for a free 30 minute consultation at 414-210-3135.