If your child custody or divorce case has a child custody evaluator assigned to it then in nearly all circumstances interviews will take place between the evaluator and your family, including your children.
This is an opportunity for the evaluator to learn more about the children’s impressions of what is going on with their lives so that the judge may become aware of the circumstances a little better. Ultimately the judge is concerned with making decisions that are in the best interests of the children and not what is in your or your opposing party’s best interests.
A word of advice at the outset of this blog post would be to avoid coaching your children to provide certain responses to questions in order to attempt to sway the evaluator. For one the evaluator is an experienced interviewer and as a result is adept at keying in on a lie.
Secondly, children are not good at reciting stories or recalling information that you previously told them. They may be able to remember the three things you told them to say on a particular subject but it is unlikely that he or she will be able to understand why he or she should say those things or even the order to say them. Ultimately your attempts to coach may backfire against you.
I advise clients to approach these interviews with their children like they would anything else in life. Be truthful, don’t be worried about what is being asked, and always remember that you and their other parent will always love them no matter what is said. That’s about it. Ideally, your child should be as free of anxiety as possible prior to one of these interviews and confirm your love and put their fears to rest is a good way to start.
Children typically are not asked outcome determinative questions
One part of the interview process that I believe should be shared is that from my experience the custody evaluator does not typically ask children questions about where he or she wants to live.
Like most things in their lives, children have opinions and feelings about which parent they would care to live with. Depending on their age these feelings may have the backing of actual circumstances and facts that have shaped that opinion. For younger children, their opinion can change on a weekly basis based on which parent bought them McDonald's most recently.
However, evaluators can tell the feelings of a child towards a parent even in situations where seemingly harmless questions are asked. If the child is asked to draw a picture of their family and the picture shows you or the other parent at a distance away from the child that can be telling in and of itself.
This isn’t anything that you can prepare the child for necessarily. Helping your children to be as comfortable as possible is the best and essentially the only way to prepare a child to be interviewed under these circumstances.
Ensuring that the evaluator has all the information he/she needs to conduct interviews
It is very possible to lose track of all of the items that you are responsible for in your divorce. Not only do you have a full-fledged legal case to help organize but your family responsibilities don’t just go away during this same time period. It may be the last item on your “to do” list to make sure that the child custody evaluator has all the information he or she needs to conduct interviews and complete their evaluation.
Just as your attorney asked you at the beginning of your case, he or she would be well served to remind you now that providing information to the people that are working on your case with you is one of the most important responsibilities that you have as a party.
There is only so many hours in the day and only so much of an opportunity to conduct in-depth interviews. The documentation that you provide to the evaluator should be fully complete and allow him or her to learn as much background about you and your family as possible.
The questionnaire will likely ask you to describe your children, their habits, their personalities and their interests. How well do they do in school? What do they struggle with?
Other questions will likely delve into what their routine is and who typically picks them up from school and helps them with homework and other responsibilities. If you or the other parent work during the day or have irregular hours the evaluator may like to know who will attend sporting events, dance recitals or other extracurricular activities. Essentially, you need to honestly state which parent is involved in certain areas of your children’s lives and to what degree.
Finally, the evaluator will ask “skeletons in the closet” type questions. It’s likely that your attorney has already asked you to answer these sort of questions so nothing should come as a surprise to your attorney.
If you have any sort of criminal record, or if your opposing party does, is a common question to ask. What’s more- if you have battled an addiction to drugs, alcohol or any other substance is a question that will need to be answered honestly.
It is no use to tell half-truths or outright lies. If it is discovered that you have attempted to hide information that will be worse than the consequences of fully admitting a chemical dependency when given the opportunity.
Child Custody Evaluations are not easy- finding strong representation can be
Choosing to hire the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to represent you in a divorce or child custody case can simplify, streamline and create peace of mind in your life. While no family law case is easy for you or your family, our office strives to provide the sort of advocacy that allows our clients to achieve their goals.
For a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys please do not hesitate to contact our office today. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to do the same for you and your family.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Facing a child custody evaluation? Here are tips to conducting yourself with the evaluator
- Methods to help when working with a child custody evaluator
- Preparing for a Child Custody Evaluation
- The effect of a child custody evaluation on your family law case
- Types of child custody evaluations and the details associated with an investigation
- Modifying a child custody order: A how to guide for Texas parents
- Where will my child's custody case need to be filed?
- Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
- Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
- Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring, Texas Child Custody Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Child Custody Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our Child Custody lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Child Custody cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.