If you are considering a divorce, or are thinking about leaving your significant other and there are children involved, chances are that there will be a challenge regarding custody and parenting time. Indeed, custody proceedings can be incredibly stressful and emotional, because most people view a decision to seek sole legal (or physical) custody as a personal attack upon the other parent.

No one wants a child to be a weapon in parents’ personal battles against each other. As such, California family court judges may appoint a third party to conduct an investigation and issue recommendations regarding custody and parenting time. Most parents are apprehensive about custody evaluations. After all, who wants to be critiqued as a parent? Moreover, who wants a short series of meetings determining whether they can spend time with their child?

So while being nervous about an evaluation is okay, being prepared is the key to success in contested custody matters. This means preparing for what a custody evaluator will ask and how to handle tough and invasive questions.

This post will provide some helpful tips.

Know what the evaluator looks for – First and foremost, understand that the job of a custody evaluator is to objectively assess the family’s dynamics to determine what is in the child’s best interests. The evaluator is not seeking to take sides or look for damaging information against you.

Leave personal issues out of the discussion – You can expect that the custody evaluator will ask questions about what you think about the other parent’s parenting skills. Essentially, the evaluator will want to know what you see as far as strengths and/or weaknesses in the other parent.  While the other parent may have some work to do with co-parenting, it is not an opportunity to bombard the evaluator with negative statements about your past relationship.  

Truthfulness is everything – If you think you can put one over on a custody evaluator, think again. These are trained professionals who are well versed in reading cues associated with lying. So being evasive or misrepresenting facts will undoubtedly come out in an evaluator’s recommendations.  

Trust your attorney – It may go without saying, but your attorney’s advice is critical when it comes to custody evaluations. Recommendations regarding being respectful and positive should be taken seriously.