A Florida family law judge usually orders a custody evaluation when divorcing parents cannot agree on custody issues. This is a process whereby a professional – usually with a psychology or legal background — evaluates the parents and children and make custody and visitation recommendations to the court.
In Jacksonville, most judges rely heavily on custody evaluations to determine who should get primary custody of the children. Therefore, it is important to prepare for a child custody evaluation properly.
A typical custody evaluation usually includes interview with the parents and children as well as other people in their lives – grandparents, nannies, teachers, etc. The evaluator will also observe how both parents interact with their children, and may order psychological testing as well.
Some tips for preparing for a custody evaluation:
• Treat the evaluation like a job interview. Dress appropriately, be on time, listen and react calmly and be respectful.
• Come prepared. Organize any documents that have been requested by the evaluator or that you feel are important. Make a list of your concerns so you can communicate them well.
• Answer questions directly and ask for clarification if there is a question you do not understand.
• Do not disparage the other parent.
• Help children understand the process, but do not coach them.
• Respond promptly for requests for more documentation or information.