Specific Items To Ask For In A Parenting Evaluation
When asking for a Parenting or Custody Evaluation, there are a number of items you should have your attorney specify with respect to the "Findings" or "Recommendation" section of the evaluator's final report. Instruct your attorney to request (in writing) that the following items be covered in the evaluator's report.
Request a recommendation of custody or residential placement. The evaluator should clearly spell out who is their choice for the custodial parent (sometimes referred to as the Primary Residential Parent). This is one of the most important pieces of data in the entire report, and is often the sole reason for such an evaluation being done. Nevertheless, some evaluators have actually omitted this information from their final report. Request that the evaluator state clearly who they feel should be considered as the best choice for the custodial parent.
Request that the evaluator perform a "home study". Also request that the results be disclosed in the evaluator's final report. In some cases this may not be required, but if there is any suspicion that your spouse's home environment is not suitable for children in any way, specifically request that the evaluators examine or address this issue. Provide examples of what they should look for or what you think they may find.
Request that the evaluator administer psychological evaluations and/or an MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) test. The validity of the results of these tests (especially the MMPI) are well recognized and accepted. Have your attorney specify that the MMPI results be discussed (at least in general terms) in the final report.
Request that collateral contacts supplied by you and your spouse be interviewed. Have your attorney specify this be included in the evaluation. Often, collateral contacts are where the evaluator will get the "real" story as to what is going on. Some examples of good collateral contacts might be: former employers of your spouse (assuming her job history is poor), ex-friends of hers that she may be at odds with, previous spouses, neighbors and daycare workers that she may have had contact with. Also, any previous therapists or mental-health workers she's been involved with would be good candidates for collateral contacts.
Not covering these items may be grounds for the value of the report to be called into question or even invalidated by either attorney. Should the evaluator omit any of the above items,contact the evaluator and firmly request that they write an addendum or letter specifically addressing the points that were left out.