Preparing for a Custody Evaluation in New Jersey
Often times New Jersey divorce lawyers provide guidance and direction to their respective clients concerning the custody evaluation process. In the event that NJ divorce litigants are unable to amicably resolve custody issues, it is typical for the court to authorize a custody evaluation.
Custody evaluations are, more often than not, performed by highly skilled forensic psychologists. The process includes being interviewed by the psychologist, having the psychologist perform collateral interviews, i.e. interview friends and family members, interviewing the child, administering personality testing, and observing the parent and child interacting with one another. Typically, these evaluations take many months to complete.
At the conclusion of the evaluation, the custody evaluator prepares a comprehensive report that is often in excess of sixty pages in length. A New Jersey divorce attorney should provide his or her client with the details of the evaluation process, as well as provide the custody evaluator with all relevant court documentation.
Recommendations for Clients in a Custody Evaluation
Be Open and Honest
One of the most important aspects of a custody evaluation is making sure that you are cooperative with the custody evaluator. The litigants should make certain that they arrive on time to the appointment with the evaluator, that they are contentious and courtesy to the evaluator and their staff, and that they answer any and all questions posed by the evaluator in an honest and open manner. It is also important to try to not project yourself in a manner that is disingenuous.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. The custody evaluators are often very skillful in determining as to whether or not you are trying to portray yourself in an unrealistic, overly positive manner. It is recommended that you do not try to overcompensate for any flaws in your parenting style. You should also ensure that you are dressed appropriately and that your appearance is neat and clean when you are meeting with the custody evaluator.
Do Not Talk Badly About Your Spouse or Coach Your Child
It is equally important when meeting with your child custody evaluator that you do not continually bad mouth your spouse. You want to make sure that you get across to the evaluator your personality and parenting style. You do not want to attempt to win the favor of the custody evaluator by demonizing your spouse. Instead, you should focus on describing how certain parenting time situations and child behaviors are dealt with differently by you and your spouse.
If you are the parent who has traditionally had more responsibilities as it relates to the care of the children, make sure that you have documentary evidence to back up those assertions and that you present same to the evaluator in a coherent and organized manner. It is also imperative that you do not coach your child prior to your child being questioned by the evaluator. As outlined above, custody evaluators are very intelligent and will be able to easily determine if the child has been coached. If, in fact, the evaluator has determined that you coached the child prior to the evaluator interviewing him or her, this would seriously impact your credibility with the evaluator and could jeopardize your standing in the custody evaluation process.
The Court’s Considerations in a Child Custody Evaluation
Finally, prior to submitting to a custody evaluation, the client should be made aware of the statutory factors that the court is obligated to consider in rendering a custody award. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in manners relating to the child, the parents’ willingness to accept custody or any history of unwillingness to accept parenting time, the interaction or relationship of the child with the parents or siblings, any history of any prior domestic violence, the needs of the child, stability of the home environment, fitness of the parents, extent and quality of time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the parties’ separation, their employment responsibilities, and the age and number of the children.
As one can plainly see, the custody evaluation process is quite complex and requires adequate preparation in order to maximize the potential for a favorable result. If you are scheduled to take part in a child custody evaluation in New Jersey, you should hire an experienced child custody lawyer for help.
Villani & DeLuca – NJ Child Custody Lawyers
Should you have any questions concerning the custody evaluation process, please contact experienced New Jersey family law attorney, Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq. for a free consultation. Mr. DeLuca has represented many clients who have gone through custody evaluations throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County, New Jersey. Call today at 732-965-3350 for your free consultation.