Needless to say, the best way to avoid a bad or unfavorable custody evaluation report is to plan the custody evaluation carefully by including referral questions in the court order and by carefully selecting the custody evaluator. It is also important to inform yourself about what and what not to do when going through a custody evaluation. However, sometimes even with the best planning, a bad custody evaluation report occurs.
The following are things you can do when faced with a bad custody evaluation report:
- Don't Panic - It may be hard not to panic when faced with a custody evaluation report that views you in a less than favorable way and makes recommendations that you were not anticipating. Generally speaking, nothing will happen immediately. Both sides will have time to review and plan how to move forward. So you have time!
- Make an Appointment with Your Attorney to discuss the ramifications of your custody evaluation report once you have thoroughly read it.
- Make Note of Discrepancies and/or Omissions - Highlight the parts of your custody evaluation report that show discrepancies and/or omissions in the information or documentation provided to the custody evaluator. If you find discrepancies and/or omissions and you have documentation to support them, your attorney can point these out to the custody evaluator and he or she may be willing to amend the custody evaluation report. In these instances, the discrepancies must be significant and verifiable for the custody evaluator to make revisions to the custody evaluation report.
- Check the Custody Evaluation Guidelines - In some jurisdictions, guidelines are established for how custody evaluations or social studies should be conducted. The American Psychological Association also has established guidelines for custody evaluations. Familiarize yourself with these and make note of any deviations from them by your custody evaluator.
- Have Your Custody Evaluation Reviewed - If you believe that your custody evaluation was not done properly, then you should consider having it professionally reviewed. Experts in custody evaluations will be able to review your custody evaluation for methodological flaws including signs of bias, failure to follow established guidelines and gaps in data. In addition to receiving a copy of your custody evaluation report, the reviewer will also want a copy of the Court Order for the custody evaluation and a copy of the custody evaluator's curriculum vitae (CV). The latter is very important because all too often professionals conduct custody evaluations without the proper training. Even if your custody evaluation reviewer determines that your custody evaluation report is methodologically sound, he or she may assist you in finding ways to ameliorate the negative findings. The custody evaluation reviewer may also present options for you on how to move forward. A review of your custody evaluation may also assist at trial when there is no option.
Dr. Reena Sommer is pleased to discuss options
for having your custody evaluation report reviewed without obligation.