When preparing for a child custody evaluation, each party, and especially the party requesting the change in custody might find it beneficial to their case, to prepare a binder with information for the evaluator.
The binder should have separate sections including documents related to that section (i.e. old school records, old home, new school records, new home, medical records, prior custody orders and parenting agreements, restraining orders and police reports, mediation reports, Child Services reports, prior communications between the parents, etc.) The following are examples of items to include in the binder, where such exist:
- All custody orders for the most relevant period.
- All parenting agreements, if such exits.
- Restraining orders concerning personal conduct, domestic violence, or civil harassment.
- Prior reports and recommendations from non-confidential mediation or other custody assessments or evaluations. Prior reports and recommendations from the Department of Social Services and the Child Support Services Department.
- Current assessments of the children or parents, if such exist. For example, a child may have been formally assessed for a learning or other type of disability or may have an Individual Educational Plan (IEP), or a parent may have been assessed for a substance abuse problem.
- School progress reports, report cards, tardy and absent records, truancy notices from the child’s current school. Information regarding the child’s old school: ratings, demographic date, etc.
- Information regarding the child’s new school: enrollment options, classes offered, ratings, demographic date, etc.
- Information about the child’s new living location: apartment and surrounding area. Pictures would be helpful too.
- Information regarding the moving party’s future employment in the proposed relocation area, if the request is based on a move-away.
- Medical records evidencing the child’s visits to the doctor; the diagnosis or outcome; prescriptions ordered.
- E-mail exchanges between the child and either of the parents; or between either of the parents and the child’s teacher or doctor; or between the opposing party and any other people involved in this case (i.e. other family members).
The information included should support the party’s position as to the requested change of custody.