[P]reviously we started a four-part series title, Why Child Custody Evaluation is So Stressful. Let’s continue.
What Makes Up a Typical Child Custody Evaluation
A child custody evaluation usually begins with a court-appointed psychologist to conduct a family assessment. Depending on the situation, this evaluation could involve a step-parent, fiancé, or live-in partner. The questioning should include questioning the parents together or separate, and perhaps the more mature children. If interrogated separately, parents should be asked the similar questions covering the same topics/concerns and should address the well-being of the children. Maybe the most important topic is if one parent has made a serious allegation against the other one. In such a case, the accused should be given an opportunity to respond.
Parents should be careful not to make the evaluation an indictment against the other parent. Should one “unload” about every foible and idiosyncrasy of the other one’s personality and habits, it could backfire and make the accused look like the more unfit parent. The session should be about who best interacts with the children, not which parent is the perceived worse person. Other parents paint themselves as an angel who not only exemplifies the perfect parent, but the perfect person. Another common parental response and the one most appealing, is to give a reasonable assessment of themselves, noting both the positive and negative aspects of their personality and relationship with their child.
A Little About Child Custody Evaluation Home Visits
Outside of the family questioning, the evaluators will want to see a first-hand interaction between parent and child. So an observation session may take place in the family home of the evaluator’s office. The evaluator will probably also gather information from teachers, employers, day-care workers, other close family members and any other personal or professional who may have insights as to the family’s inner workings.
In some cases, they may ask the family to undergo psychological counseling. While the testing varies greatly, the tests may focus on the child’s emotional status and/or the quality of the parent-child relationship. Depending on the circumstances, tests may be administered to determine the child’s emotional well-being or academic potential.
The family assessment will likely be about the most stressful time of a stressful situation. For the family to succeed, the parents should always remember that the assessment is about what is best for the children, not about getting back at a spouse.
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