Regardless of whether your evaluator is court-appointed or private, one of the most important things that they’ll try to establish, without openly telling you so, is just how in-tune with the child(ren) you are. (This is also important to remember in the court room setting regardless of whether you have an evaluation or not!)
The following questions are important for you to consider. Allow these questions to prompt you to think of others along the same lines so that you have carefully reviewed them and are able to answer with almost 100% certainty. Now, depending upon the age of the child, it’s understandable that some of the things that they’ll say that they like or do or enjoy can change every single day. Additionally, there are some questions that on the surface one might think you “should” know, but don’t always know. In everyday life, that’s acceptable. In a custody evaluation, less so. For instance, I don’t know my children’s shoe size. It’s not important. It only becomes important when it’s time for them to get new shoes. Then, I take them to the shoe store, have their feet measured, and purchase the appropriate size. I’ll probably forget their shoe size by the time I get to the care because it won’t matter in the grand scheme of things until it’s time to get new shoes again. In a custody evaluation – know their shoe size.
- What is the child’s age? Birthdate? Grade level? These are the obvious ones, but you would be surprised how easily it is to “forget” these when you’re put on the spot. Jane got one or both child’s birthdates incorrect in every single evaluation, not that it mattered.
- Child’s clothing and shoe sizes?
- What is the child’s stage of development?
- Does the child have any special needs? Have a plan for them! Should you have a special-needs child you should be able to articulate your plan to accommodate them. Consider bigger issues (such as emotional or physical problems) or smaller issues (like allergies, special diets, etc.)
- If there is childcare, who is the provider? What are the children’s schedules? Do you know the names of the some of the personnel and the leader? Do have the contact information?
- Do you know the names of their pediatrician? Their dentist? Any other specialists? Be sure you know their locations.
- Do you know the name of their school? Their teachers? Their Principal?
- What subject matter does the child enjoy the most? The least?
- Do you know the names of your child’s friends? Who do they consider their “best friend(s)”? The names of some of their parents?
- In what extracurricular activities is the child enrolled? When? Who are their coaches/leaders?
- What kind of activities do YOU do with your child?
- What are the child’s favorite books? Games? Colors? Activities? etc.
- What books have the children read lately? What are they reading at home? What are they reading in school? How well do they read?
- How are they doing in school? What grades did they get in their subjects? How is their behavior in school? What kinds of school work have you helped them with and how did it turn out?
- What type of pet is their favorite?
- How do you provide discipline and reward?