The court wants to be sure that the child ends up in custody of the most stable party. To this end, custody evaluations include a psychological assessment that can make or break your case. These are the top five things you should know about your psychological custody evaluation.
1. The Evaluation Begins the Moment You Call the Office
How you interact with the office manager is crucial in a psychological custody evaluation. They’re going to give your feedback to the psychologist. The evaluator knows if you’re willing to work with them, if you’re cooperative, if you’re flexible or conversely if you’re a douche.
No matter how big the office is, that will get back to the psychologist. The office people will tell them how well they’ve been able to work with you. And so the more cooperative, flexible, and pleasant you can be to the office staff, the better it reflects on you.
2. Document Everything You Can
Make sure there’s a document that reflects the reason for any visitations you miss. Make a call to the friend of the court and document that you didn’t have your visitation. If the other party has a history of substance abuse, make sure that’s documented.
At this point in the process, it is “he said–she said”. So, whatever documentation you can provide is better for you. Otherwise it’s your word against the other parties.
They are going to say, “No, I didn’t deny visitation. They just didn’t show up!” But maybe you did show up.
So, call the friend of the court and say, “I showed up at the meeting place to pick up my kid and the other party didn’t let me have them.” Now, you have a document to support your claims.
3. Put Your Best Foot Forward – AND Be Yourself.
Don’t try and be something you’re not. Psychological evaluations have validity scales, which are ways of seeing if you’re lying. Don’t try to be perfect.
No one expects you to be a perfect parent. The court only needs you to be a good enough parent. In fact, throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s the psychological community did a lot of research about how to be a perfect parent. The final conclusion was that there is no such thing.
Now, the professional term used in family law, is “good enough parent”. Are you good enough as a parent to provide for your child’s emotional, social, economic, financial needs?
4. Don’t Try to Assassinate the Other Person’s Character
Be honest about what you see in the other parent. If the other party has a drug problem, tell the evaluator that they have a drug problem. If they are so infatuated with a girlfriend that they’re ignoring the kid, acknowledge those things.
But, keep in mind, your job in the custody evaluation is to prove that you’re a good enough parent. Your job is not to prove that the other party is a bad parent. If they are a bad parent, that will come through in their evaluation.
There’s a difference between being honest about the other parties parenting, and demonizing their character. Don’t ignore their deficits, and you can mention disagreements that you have with the other parent. But, your job is to prove that you’re a good parent – not destroy the other parent.
And I’ve had cases where they are so focused on explaining why their partner is horrible that they’re not talking about themselves – about how good they are as parents.
Most of the time, they’re not as bad as you think they are because your emotions are so caught up in the rejection, abandonment, shame – etc. The court sees each one of you from a different paradigm than you see each other. So, focus on the value of your parenting, rather than the deficits of the other party.
5. It’s Always About the Best Interests of the Child
You may not particularly like the fact that you’re going to share parenting time with the person who hurt you, but it might be better for the child. The child’s best interest is paramount in the mind of your evaluator.
Most of the time, it is better for a child to have interaction with both parents – if possible. Visitation might not be allowed, however, if there is a history of abuse or neglect.
When it comes down to what’s best for the child, it may mean that you don’t win this one. If you don’t, be the best damn parent you can be with the time you have. Sometimes, if you truly love something, you have to let them go.
Feel free to share this article with someone who is going through a psychological custody evaluation, by sharing it through social media. And learn more about legal guardianship in Michigan and Indiana on our site. Thanks for reading!