Parents may dread the long, drawn out process of a custody and parenting time dispute. However, family court judges commonly want to give parents every opportunity possible to resolve their differences before having to make a decision. This is partly because judges understand how one parent may feel completely marginalized by a decision that goes against them, and because parents still have to work together even after a decision has been made.
As such, judges may appoint a custody evaluator to conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the court about custody and parenting time. This may rub parents the wrong way, because it is inherently judgmental. Nevertheless, a neutral party’s view of the situation can hold a strong influence over a judge’s decision.
Because of this, parents should be ready to participate in an evaluation. This post will detail a few things that custody evaluators look at.
Communication styles and compromise – Even though a couple is no longer together, family court judges expect parents to be able to co-parent without too much difficulty. As such, custody evaluators will examine how parents communicate, and how they go about resolving disputes through compromise.
Each parent’s home – More than just having a clean home, evaluators want to know how dinner time goes, how each parent prepares a child for bed, and what other hazards may be present in the home. This may also include what time a parent gets home from work, and whether a significant other lives in the home with the parent.
A parent’s willingness to include the other parent – As we alluded to earlier, kids need both parents in their lives. As such, an evaluator is likely to examine each parent’s willingness to allow the other parent to have time with the child.