The Child Custody Checklist

THE CHILD CUSTODY CHECKLIST

by

Dr. Barry Bricklin and Dr. Gail Elliot

Dr. Bricklin and Dr. Elliot are nationally-known child custody experts. They have written many publications offering help and guidance for mothers, fathers, and grandparents involved in child custody issues.  Their publications can be found at http://www.custodylibrary.com

There are many items to think about and consider as you prepare to get involved, or re-involved, in any custody dispute. This list will help you better organize these items. It has been prepared using all of the training and experience of our 35 years in the field as Custody Evaluators, Expert Witnesses, Authors, and Consultants in Custody Cases all over the United States.

Dr. Barry Bricklin and Dr. Gail Elliot

(Their biographies are included following the Checklist)   

 THE CHILD CUSTODY CHECKLIST

Hire the right lawyer, with the right experience, knowledge and training. We have found–during our 35 years in the field—that hiring the correct lawyer is the most important action that you can take. Without the right lawyer nothing seems to work out as well—no matter how much work you put into your case.

Get recommendations for the right lawyer. (From your family lawyer, friends, bar association, etc.)

Make a list of the other person’s weaknesses. The other person is usually your spouse or former spouse, but may be grandparents, foster parents, siblings, or even the State.

 Make a list of the other person’s strengths. This is really important, it is too easy to concentrate on the other person’s weaknesses and what they do wrong–here we want you to list what they do right.

Make a list of your strengths.

Make a list of your weaknesses. Be honest. Only you and your lawyer will see the list.

List the strengths in your present position from the view of the judge: job, economics, help from parents, etc.

List the strengths of the other person in his or her present position.

Decide if you should be the first to initiate the suit.

Decide if you should try to settle-the case.

Write out a Draft Custody Plan. List everything that you want as if you will be able to get everything that you want—you won’t get everything but making this list is a good start.

Make a list of the negotiable points in your Draft Custody Plan:

Decide if you should start negotiating with the other person.

Make a list of your bargaining chips.

Decide if you should work out a temporary custody plan with the other person.

Find out what criteria your family court looks at when awarding custody.

Find out if your judge has specific prejudices. (Blond hair, women or men, successful women, athletic looking men, etc.)

Find out if the other person is using alienating strategies.

If the other person is using alienating strategies, put into effect a plan to counteract these strategies.

Decide if the other person may make false allegations in court. What would they be?

Decide how to refute any false allegations.

Make a list of witnesses that you have to refute potential allegations. 

Write down, for each witness, how they should dress and act in court.

Decide how you should act in court.

Choose the clothes you will wear in court.

Decide if this is the right time to start dating.

Decide if this is the right time to move in with your new significant other.

Make a list of the marital assets.

Include in the list when each asset came into the marriage.

Include how each asset came into the marriage.

Calculate how much insurance is in-force that would go to you and your child.

Calculate how much insurance you and your child actually need.

Medical coverage?

Write down the education plans for your child and yourself

Make a list of your future potential earnings.

Think about what could happen to increase or decrease your future earnings potential.

Make a list of the other person’s estimated future income.

Write down any special earnings potential of the other person.

Decide if your child is being bribed.

If yes, decide on a course of action to counteract these bribes.

Make a list by subject of the important things you have not told your lawyer. You don’t want any surprises in court. List arrests, bankruptcy, affairs, fights–everything!

Consider if there is a sickness or disability to be considered.

Make a list of any of the ways that you can help control legal costs.

Decide what to do if the other person wants to relocate.

Decide if you may want to relocate, now or later.

Decide if you need a Custody Evaluation to help your case.

Hire the right evaluator? Get recommendations from your lawyer, friends, etc.

Decide if the other person is trying to “get your goat.”

Consider how it would help the other person if you did get angry.

“If you energetically follow the checklist above, dig out all of the necessary answers and write them down, and communicate that information to your lawyer, witnesses, etc., you will significantly help your case!”  

We wish you well,

Dr. Barry Bricklin and Dr. Gail Elliot

Dr. Bricklin and Dr. Elliot are nationally-known child custody experts. They have written many publications offering help and guidance for mothers, fathers, and grandparents involved in child custody issues.  Their publications can be found at http://www.custodylibrary.com

 DR. BARRY BRICKLIN

~~Dr. Bricklin is a psychologist in private practice. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Widener University and has previously served on the faculty of Jefferson University and of Hahnneman University. He has served as a consultant in psychology to the Walter Reed Army Hospital Research Center, to the United States Army, to the New York Academy of Medicine, and to the Columbia Broadcasting System.

~~He is past president of the Philadelphia Society for Personality Assessment and the Philadelphia Society of Clinical Psychologists. He has authored books and articles on prognosis in schizophrenia, marital compatibility, epilepsy, the psychology of affiliation, predicting violence and aggression, diet techniques, role-play techniques, hypnosis in surgery, the intercultural use of the Rorschach test, and, of course, custody evaluations.

~~Among the results of his cooperative ventures with his wife Dr. Patricia M. Bricklin are numerous articles and three books. Two of their books have been best sellers, Bright Child-Poor Grades: The Psychology of Underachievement, and Strong Family-Strong Child.

~~Dr. Bricklin created the original scoring scheme for the Hand Test, and co-authored, with Dr. Zygmunt A. Pietrowski, several articles on prognostic criteria for persons suffering from schizophrenia.

~~For over 25 years, Dr. Bricklin has developed various data-based approaches to the decisions which must be made when parents divorce.

~~Dr. Bricklin’s book, The Custody Evaluation Handbook is published by Brunner/Mazel and is currently in wide-spread use by mental health professionals in the United States and Canada.

~~Dr. Bricklin is presently Chair of the Executive Operating Committee of the Professional Academy of Custody Evaluators (PACE).

DR. GAIL ELLIOT

~~ Dr. Elliot is Head, Child Development and Family Processes Research, Bricklin Associates, the Vice Chair of the Professional Academy of Custody Evaluators and a psychologist in private practice. She has served as a consultant to public and private schools and coordinated multidisciplinary treatment plans. She was responsible for devising for Bricklin Associates an information-processing oriented educational therapy technique and a comprehensive college entrance service for children with serious motivational problems and low self-esteem problems.

~~Dr. Elliot authored a chapter on post-divorce research for The Custody Evaluation Handbook (Brunner/Mazel) and co-authored Parent Perception of Child Profile (PPCP), a widely used custody evaluation instrument. She was responsible for much of the research behind the Bricklin custody instruments, and is co-author with Dr. Bricklin of ACCESS (A Comprehensive Custody Evaluation Standard System) a start-to-finish procedure for conducting a comprehensive custody evaluation. In late 1997 Dr. Elliot co-authored, with Dr. Bricklin, The Bricklin/Elliot Child Custody Evaluation Home-Vist Booklet and authored Assessment of Parenting Skills: Infant and Preschooler (APSIP)

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