When Parental Fitness Is in Question
Child custody issues can be the worst part of a divorce. When the parties don't agree on primary custody, the judge may utilize an expert in the field of child psychology to help make the decision. Your child's future could hinge on a successful child study, so read on and learn some tips on coping with this very stressful situation.
Take a Helpful Attitude –
No parent wants to go through a child study because doing so means you could be in jeopardy of losing custody. Unfortunately, your resentment could accidentally taint your interactions with the evaluator to such an extent that you come off as negative. The judge and the child study expert are bound to keep your child's best interests in mind as they move toward a custody decision. Keeping a positive attitude in mind is sure to produce a better outcome for you and your child.
Prep Your Child Properly –
Use care as you prepare your child for the evaluation. The evaluator will be using age-appropriate methods to communicate with your child and to make the experience as pleasant as possible. The child's age should also guide your preparations. Avoid coaching the child because the evaluator is sure to catch on to any attempts to influence them.
Be Diplomatic –
You will probably be asked about the other parent, so be sure to couch everything you say with an eye towards being fair and respectful. You can convey your fears about the other parent's disciplinary measures, for instance, in terms of your feelings about it rather than a condemnation of the other parent in general.
Advocate For Yourself –
Don't be shy about addressing the reasons why you think you deserve physical custody of the child. Often, when a child study is needed, it's because both parents appear to be fit to parent. It could come down to issues like where the child feels comfortable, has been living, or which parent has the most time to spend parenting.
Be Proactive –
Be on guard during the evaluation process to issues and communicate any problems to your divorce lawyer. For example, if you sense that the study expert is biased against you for any reason, alert your lawyer right away. Your lawyer may be able to step in and take action.
The Results Are In –
If you don't agree with the child study results, you may be able to ask for another one to be done by a different evaluator. Talk to your divorce lawyer and get more tips on how to handle your child evaluation and what to do when things don't turn out in your favor.
For more information, contact a family law attorney near you.