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If you are embroiled in a custody dispute with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, or the other parent of your child, the prospect of dealing with a custody evaluator probably is not welcoming. Custody evaluators are essentially investigators appointed by court or mutually agreed upon by the parties to review a number of aspects of the child’s life and issue a recommendation to the court regarding legal custody, physical custody and parenting time.

For any parent, the notion of being judged can be a very emotional experience. This is especially true if a parent has shortcomings they may not want a custody evaluator to discover (i.e. alcohol use, drug abuse). However, a custody evaluation is about what is best for the child, not about who presumably has the better parenting skills.

With that, we offer some helpful tips to so that you can be prepared for a custody evaluation.

Refrain from parent bashing – Your meeting with the custody evaluator is not the time to voice your frustrations about the other parent. After all, he or she already knows that you two don’t get along, as well as the nature of your conflict. The questions to be answered are about how you will resolve future conflict.

Be mindful of your surroundings – It is very likely that the evaluator will be coming to your home to observe the area where your child lives or spends a great deal of time. A tidy, hazardless home can be very helpful in a custody evaluation.

Honesty is key – Giving non-evasive answers to the evaluator is essential, even if you are uncomfortable disclosing sensitive information that may work against you. Ultimately, the evaluator (and the court) must see you as a credible parent who is likely to follow a court order after it is issued.