What You Need To Know About Preparing for your Custody Evaluation

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today we will be discussing preparing for your custody evaluation.

What is custody evaluation?

A custody evaluation is an evaluation ordered by the court and a case involving child custody. A custody evaluator is a court appointed expert in your case. Typically, they are a social worker who will meet with you and your collateral witnesses, the opposing party, and their collateral witnesses, and depending on the age of your children, your children to discuss any issues going on in your case and their preference involving access and parenting time. They will also review any documents that may have been provided including pleadings, including concerns regarding medical records or mental health records, if those are needed and come up with a custody evaluation report for the court to review.

Speak with your Attorney

If you have a custody evaluation ordered it’s important for you to discuss that evaluation with your attorney. It’s important for you to understand what may or may not happen during that evaluation and what information should and should not be provided to the evaluator. You want to make sure that you aren’t over providing information, but you also want to make sure that you are providing the appropriate amount of information, as well as collateral witnesses, to make sure the custody evaluator has a good synopsis of what’s going on in your case. A custody evaluator typically is meant to be, kind of, the court’s eyes into your household into your family in your opposing party’s household. So, the custody evaluator can talk with your collateral witnesses that may not be available for trial or the court may not have time to have testify in your matter. They can review documents including medical records, mental health records, speak with teachers, whatever is necessary for them to give a valuable and well-rounded custody evaluation to the court. So, it’s important for you to talk with your attorney about how to make sure the information you need is presented to your custody evaluator appropriately.

Prepare Crucial Documents and Evidence

Custody evaluators often request documentation regarding any allegations, concerns, communication between the parents, issues that are going on in your case, that are likely going to be case specific. It’s important that you have available those documents for the custody evaluator so that they can ask questions or see what’s going on and make an educated report at the end of their evaluation.

Prepare to Schedule tome for in Person Visits

You want to make sure that you schedule time with the evaluators when you have access with your children. If you don’t have a custody access schedule and you don’t have a schedule where you can even see your children, it’s important for you, the custody evaluator, and your co-parent to discuss when the evaluator will be able to see you and your children interacting. It’s better if you have more than one visit with the evaluator and your children so that they can get a good feel for your relationship with your children and how you interact with them.

Don’t Coach your Children

Please don’t coach your children. Coaching your children becomes obvious to third-party professionals who are routinely involved in custody cases. Whether it’s the best interest attorney, a custody evaluator, they will ask questions to find out if your child has been coached and if your children are being coached that will ultimately end up in their report and it may negatively reflect upon you.

If you have any questions about custody valuations or any other issues regarding custody in Maryland, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.