Parenting evaluators are important figures when it comes to custody and visitation matters. The family law courts often follow their recommendations. Because of this, many parents worry about making a good impression on the parenting evaluators.
However, these three easy tips can help you put your best foot forward:
Tip #1: Appear calm
According to WashingtonLawHelp.org, it's natural for parents to feel nervous and defensive when their parenting skills are under the microscope. However, this is dangerous because the evaluator has only a limited amount of time to get to know you, and the opinions he or she forms may have lasting implications on the custody arrangements of your child.
For this reason, you should work hard to be extra polite. Whether you are speaking over the phone or in person, act calm and collected. Even if you think the evaluator is rude, this is no time to lose your temper...too much is at stake.
Tip #2: Don't badmouth the other parent
Another natural reaction to the presence of the parenting evaluator is to imagine that it's your chance to tell them how awful the other parent is. And while you should definitely let the evaluator know if the other parent exhibits genuinely harmful behavior (such as domestic violence or drug use), this is not the time to attack his or her character.
Any claims you make about the other parent's weaknesses (or about your strengths) should be backed up by evidence and witnesses. If you can have your witnesses prepare written statements regarding what they know, that will go a long way...and all without you having to resort to insults or mudslinging.
Tip #3: Be respectful of the evaluator's time
While the parenting evaluator is not your enemy, he or she is not your friend, either. Keep in mind that the evaluator is a busy, working professional whose time is valuable. Be punctual to any appointments, and give notice as soon as possible if you have to cancel an appointment.
Outside of those appointments, try not to overload the evaluator: Do not call unless you have significant new information to share, and don't drop by his or her office unannounced. Ultimately, these interactions add up, and the evaluator's experience with you will significantly inform the report he or she writes. In this case, a little respect towards the evaluator may positively influence the ultimate outcome of the custody case.
To learn more about how to maximize your chances of gaining custody or visitation rights, talk with a Washington attorney skilled in this area of law.