Friday, February 25, 2005

Cross-examining the evaluator

I just got out of a court hearing. Dr. Bret Johnson, the court-appointed custody evaluator was on the witness stand for two hours. He said that he was surprised that I objected so strongly to his recommendations!

I raised my two kids jointly from birth. I taught them to walk, read, do arithmetic, roller skate, bicycle, etc. For one year after my wife moved out, I shared 50-50 custody. Then Johnson interviewed me for an hour, my wife for an hour, and the kids for 20 minutes each. Based on an assortment of petty gripes ranging from brushing hair to eating oatmeal, he took my kids away and limited me to 2 weekends a month, plus Wednesday dinners.

Then he said that I was to be ordered to attend re-education, consisting of 6 months of parenting classes, and a minimum of 6 months of psychotherapy, with progress reports to the court, until released. If I successfully complete the reeducation, I was to be rewarded with 2 extra days a month with the kids.

I was told that Johnson was a very experienced and strong witness, but he was actually quite weak. Several times he had trouble answering questions, and the judge had to answer for him! Apparently he is used to getting his way, and not used to being forced to justify what he is really doing.

The judge seemed to be a little unhappy when he found out that the issues were so petty. He lectured us on how most all of his cases have much more serious allegations, and how we are good parents who ought to be able to co-parent. He set a conference for next week to discuss resumption of the custody hearing. My wife's lawyer said that she wants me to pay for her to hire some more experts to take her side! I guess that she was unhappy with Johnson's performance. Johnson was all she needed to win the case, if Johnson could have backed up his recommendations.

My guess is that the judge is going to pressure us to settle. I doubt that we will, but it does appear that we have narrowed the issues somewhat. I hope that is progress.

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