A child custody dispute can be hard on everyone involved. This can make it tempting to simply agree to a custody arrangement that resolves the matter with the least amount of conflict, but this might put your child’s wellbeing at risk, as well as your relationship with him or her. Therefore, you need to be prepared to fight for your child’s best interests. While this certainly includes being skillful in your negotiations in hopes of resolving the matter outside of court, it also means being prepared to litigate the issue should the need arise.
In preparation of your case, you need to recognize that there are certain things a court can do to better ensure that a judge has the information he or she needs to make an appropriate child custody and visitation decision. One of the tools often used by the court is a child custody evaluation or investigation. Here, a court can order that any number of pertinent issues be assessed, such as:
- Each parent’s character
- Any history of substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or criminality possessed by either parent
- Each parent’s financial stability
- Each parent’s physical health
- Each parent’s mental health
This means that the court also has broad discretion in ordering testing of the child and parents as it sees fit. This may include psychological and psychiatric evaluations. The report pertaining to the issues identified above, once completed, is made available to the parents so that it can be used accordingly at trial. The investigator will also be made available for cross-examination.
As you can see, when a child custody dispute heads to court every single aspect of your life might be put under the microscope. For this reason, you need to be prepared to minimize damaging evidence and present and support evidence that supports your position. If you think you could benefit from assistance in doing this, then you might want to reach out to a skilled family law attorney of your choosing.