Mistakes to Avoid

We need not get into a long soliloquy about the reality that there are mistakes you can make along the way.  It’s tough enough trying to avoid a person’s inherent or learned biases.  You only make it worse if you make several mis-steps throughout this process.  Mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t forget to review our Communicating with the Evaluator Page for all of the suggested things you need to be able to remember throughout the evaluation.  Especially the pertinent details about your children’s lives.
  • Don’t “bury your ex” in a barrage of insults, foul language, and horror stories which you can’t substantiate with even a little bit of objective evidence, no matter how true the stories may be.
  • Don’t make every room in your home as sterile as a surgical facility.  Well, unless that’s normally how you keep it.  It’s okay to make it “more clean” than you might normally, but unless you want to appear like an obsessive control freak who creates an environment where the kids can’t possibly be having any fun time, don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t focus your discussion more on your ex’s parenting shortcomings than your own parenting positives.
  • Don’t argue in with your ex in any joint sessions there may be.
  • Don’t talk about all of the “bad things that happened in your marriage.”  It’s a custody evaluation, not a therapy session.
  • Don’t talk about money.
  • Don’t dress inappropriately.  (Don’t overdress, don’t dress like a vagrant.)
  • Don’t bring reference letters from family, friends, or colleagues (unless they are specifically requested).
  • Don’t be late.  Don’t cancel.  Don’t repeatedly reschedule.
  • Don’t argue with the evaluator.
  • Don’t lose your temper, your cool, your calm demeanor.
  • Don’t joke with the evaluator.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or offer the evaluator an alcoholic beverage.
  • Don’t coach the children.  They will be noticeably anxious if they’re trying too hard to think about what you told them they should say if asked about “X.”
  • Don’t pick a bad evaluator.

Please be smart about how you speak, how you gesture, your tone of voice, the “look” on your face, what you say, etc.  It’s all important and, opposite the advice we offer for the children to “be themselves,” sadly, for appearances, in a custody evaluation you can’t simply be yourself or speak your mind.  You have to “play the game” where the “prize” is how much custody you’ll have of the children you helped to bring into this world and raise.  Very scary thought, yes.

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