Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Reader gets evaluated

A reader asks how to prepare for a child custody evaluation, and how I managed to get 50-50 custody after a bad evaluation.

Maybe you should ask someone who knows how to work the system better than me. You could ask your lawyer; better yet you could hire a child custody coach for advice. Your divorce lawyer is not a child psychologist, and he may have no idea what impresses the custody evaluators.

The simplest thing is to just get and read a couple of parenting books from your local library. That will help you recite the sort of psychobabble that the evaluators like to hear.

My wife had a lawyer advising her. The rules say that lawyers cannot be involved in the custody evaluation, but there is a loophole that allows domestic violence advocates. So my wife made some bogus domestic violence accusations, and brought an advocate into her interview. She also asked several of her friends to write letters badmouthing me.

Our custody evaluator was a gay psychologist named Bret Johnson. Had I realized what an incompetent flake he was, I think that I would have told him to his face. He seemed to pay no attention to what I said anyway. His mind was made up.

Bret Johnson seemed befuddled by wife's silly accusations. He seemed to have no idea whether oatmeal and broccoli were appropriate for a 5-year-old to eat. I really don't know how to deal with a kook like that.

As for how I managed to get 50-50 custody, I have no simple answer. The family court system is run by people who don't have a lick of common sense. You can read this blog to get my story, but I have no magic formula.


George said...


Anonymous said...

To person requesting preparation for custody evaluation, I recommend two things. (For the record, the custody recommendation was for me to get 80%; I got 65% signed & entered into the record last week in CA, although the eval took 2 years, all told. I am also a dad, and angry too, despite getting off lucky.) First, find a lawyer who knows local evaluators--- the value a lawyer gives by knowing the people in the trade and what to expect from each far exceeds the value from their knowledge of the law. 2nd, there are two guides that evaluators use as manuals of how to do an evaluation. It is essential to read them dispassionately to get a real idea of what the evaluator looks for, which is very different from what a loving parent looks for. One of them is called "Conducting child custody evaluations." I read about 10 books, from parenting to law to tirades, and that was the most useful by far.