For private evaluators, doing your best to extensively research a potential custody evaluator is critical to this process and still no guarantee that you won’t be surprised. The first order of business will be to get their CV (curriculum vitae). This is a summary of their academic background and work history. If you are going through a court-appointed process, you won’t have that luxury, though, the appointee should have a CV to review so at least you have some idea of their background and experience.
If there is an option to have a sit-down or phone interview with your prospective private evaluator, here is a short-list of some of the questions you should ask:
- How long have you been doing custody evaluations?
- How many custody evaluations have you done (approximately)?
- How often have you recommended 50/50 custody (or close to it)?
- How often have you recommended primary custody for the mother?
- How often have you recommended primary custody for the father?
- How many of your custody evaluations involve high-conflict divorce/custody situations? Explain.
- How familiar are you with personality disorders? Explain. (This requires you to have a solid understanding of PDs as well.)
- Do the costs of the evaluation include psychological testing of the parents?
- If not, is psychological testing available and what are the additional fees?
- Do you provide an option for consolidated evaluations with an expedited report? (This usually costs extra, but will significantly reduce the evaluation time through report time from as long as 90-days or more to 45-days or less.)
- How do you verify truthfulness of concerns we bring to you?
- Are you willing to review documents that support my concerns?
Letters of recommendation are important! Don’t just take what is written as fact. If you can get 5, 6, 7 or more – evaluate them critically. If you cannot identify the sex of the client (usually attorneys send letters of recommendation about evaluators), consider contacting them and asking about how often they use this particular evaluator and how often she rules in favor of each gender (or for equal parenting).
This is not a complete list of questions, but some of the primary ones. Further discussion can be read on our forums.