The most important part of the evaluation for most evaluators is observing how each parent relates to their children. Click here for an article on bonding. The court will consider relationships between each parent and child, past and present, with an emphasis on the present. The evaluator will assess how close, or “bonded” the child is to each parent to determine who is the primary caretaker in the child’s life. All children need at least one primary person, although they can easily be attached to two or more people. The primary person is typically the one who has spent more time with the child, but this is not always the case. It is generally judged to be the person to whom the child turns when ill, upset, or tired. It is the person who takes off from work to do not only the routine care of the child, but the emergency care, as well. In your family, who disciplines the child on a regular basis is a crucial element, especially for children old enough to get into trouble when parents exert insufficient, inappropriate, or ineffective discipline. If you feel that your bonding with the child has diminished over time, take this opportunity to renew your connections. Bear in mind that all parents and children experience ebbs and flows of emotional connection over the course of the child’s development. This is an essential part of growing up and becoming an autonomous being. Click here for a great article on the bonding process.
Excerpted from Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001). For more information: http://www.yourdivorceadvisor.com/.
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