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Methods to help when working with a child custody evaluator

It doesn't take a lawyer to be familiar with the rights that are read to a person when they are being arrested. Known now as your Miranda rights, a police officer will tell you that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. My wife loves the television show Law and Order, and that line is recited probably three times every single episode.

The point I'm trying to make here is that most of you have probably heard that line in some format before you just read it here. That warning is applicable even in child custody cases that involve evaluating you, your family, and your home.

When interacting with your child custody evaluator, it is essential to remember that they, while pleasant and pie and sweeter than honey, is not your friend and is not an advocate for you. As a human beings, they probably sympathize with what you and your family are going through.

In conversation, they may even tell you as much. However, be wary when discussing any subjects with the evaluator. The reason is that what you tell them is never "off the record." Those discussions are available to the judge and will likely be used to create a custody report and make recommendations regarding conservatorship, possession, and access in your case.

You will likely have an attorney in your child custody case, which is advisable. Indeed, a child custody evaluation is not done in every divorce or child custody case. When they are done, it is usually due to a reasonably substantial dispute or difference in opinion on a subject in connection with your case—having an attorney to advocate for you and communicate your rights and responsibilities.

Speak to your attorney if you have any doubt about what you should and should not discuss with a child care evaluator. I do not mean to make this sound any more intimidating or imposing than it ought to be, but it is a necessary process and can dramatically impact your case. Always use your best judgment when saying anything to a child custody evaluator.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

At the outset of an evaluation, the evaluator will likely have you and the other parent to your child fill out some paperwork for them. Your attorney will probably have done the same with you, but how you approach each should be different.

Your attorney's paperwork is only for the lawyer's eyes and can be done in a more "off the cuff" fashion. The evaluator's paperwork will be one of the first ways that they can judge you, and as a result, you should put some thought into how you respond to questions.

For instance, when responding to a question, it is wise not to thoroughly dismantle the other parent in your answers. You may have the fire of a thousand suns ready to leap off your fingertips and onto that piece of paper, but I would recommend you hold back. If the other parent is the reason your case was filed, if their actions have led to financial and emotional difficulties or anything in between, this is not the place to fight that battle.

You have an attorney to advocate for you. Let them do their job. Please answer the questions as they are asked and do not provide extra information.

When answering questions, remember that if you attempt to exaggerate something or minimize something in your favor, this will likely come back to haunt you. You may eventually be asked to provide evidence of what you are saying in the paperwork answers. If the answers you provide cannot be substantiated, it looks like either you:

  1. are neglectful when it comes to answering questions or
  2. that you are not being truthful (otherwise known as lying).

Neither is a good look for you, though I suppose it is better to be the former than the latter. Be truthful above all else. Do not provide extraneous information. Even if your answers make you look not such a favorable answer, honestly.

The last thing you want to do is have to fight a battle against your opposing party and the child custody evaluator.

When it comes to the evaluation, act like a grownup

For most of us, acting like a grownup isn't too difficult because, well, we are grownups. Ostensibly you have:

  1. a child
  2. an income sufficient to prosecute a family law case and
  3. some common sense to have read this blog.

If you are interviewed by the evaluator at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at your home, make sure you are there at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. If you will be getting home from work at 5:55, sweaty from a full day of doing (insert tough, physical labor type job), maybe don't schedule your appointment for 6:00 and instead suggest 7:00 to the evaluator so you can take a shower and clean yourself up before their arrival.

Overall, speak plainly and calmly. No need to dress up your language or speed up what you have to say so you can pack more words into an answer. If you don't understand a question, ask them to ask it differently.

Remember that the evaluator is not on anyone's side, so there is no need to react defensively to a question being asked. These simple behaviors can significantly assist your "performance" in an interview setting.

Additional information on the actual evaluation conducted- tomorrow's blog topic.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, represents clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to speak to you about doing the same. A free-of-charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away. Please get in touch with us to learn more about our attorneys, staff, and the services we can provide to you and your family.


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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. A Child Custody Evaluator's Interaction with your children: Preparing for interviews
  2. Facing a child custody evaluation? Here are tips to conducting yourself with the evaluator
  3. Preparing for a Child Custody Evaluation
  4. The effect of a child custody evaluation on your family law case
  5. Evaluating Parental Fitness: Home Studies and Custody Evaluations in Texas
  6. Types of child custody evaluations and the details associated with an investigation
  7. Modifying a child custody order: A how-to guide for Texas parents
  8. Where will my child's custody case need to be filed?
  9. Tips on giving in-court testimony in your divorce or child custody case
  10. Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
  11. Child Custody Basics in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Child Custody Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding child custody, it's essential 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 the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC 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.

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