If you and your spouse are headed toward a divorce, there are several potentially volatile issues that could crop up. Often, couples go to war over property divisions, debts and who has to pay them, and more. If you have children under the age of 18, child custody must be decided upon. This issue can be one of the most difficult to make, given the emotional connections. While deciding on this issue between yourselves is the best option, often the family court judge must have the final say. More and more, judges are using specially-trained child custody evaluation experts to assist them in determining what is best for the child. This emotionally charged facet of divorce needs your utmost attention, so read on to ensure that you don't make these mistakes.
Don't give up on your own efforts to resolve this issue too soon. You should understand just what you could be getting yourselves into if you cannot make a decision about this issue yourselves. You can just forget your estimations of a timely final decree, since these evaluations consist of multiple interviews with the child, you and your spouse, other family members, and sometimes even school personnel and the pediatrician. Additionally, you and your spouse are responsible for paying the fees for this mental health professional's time and expertise, and they are considerable. A typical child custody evaluation could cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500.
Don't let your emotions get the best of you during the evaluation. While the thought of losing custody of your child to your spouse is undoubtedly heartrending, you must remember that the court system and the custody expert makes the best interest of the child a top priority. This means that you must refrain from bad-mouthing your spouse and all attempts to create a rift in their relationship with the child. A parent who is genuinely interested in fostering a close relationship between the child and the other parent is seen in a positive light. Anytime you take your child's best interest at heart, instead of your own, you are being the better parent.
Don't coach your child. These professionals have enough experience under their belts to spot a coached child, and the results can be a negative mark against you. You definitely don't want to be seen as an over controlling parent who attempts to "program" the child to achieve your goal of child custody. Instead, you can help prepare your child for this experience by keeping the entire event as low key as possible, and telling them that the evaluation expert just wants to to play with them (play therapy) and chat with them a bit. You are usually allowed to view at least some of these sessions from a window or two-way window.
Speak to your divorce attorney for more information.
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