Child Custody Questionnaire

by

MICHAEL A. ROBBINS, ESQ.

INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Should you accept a case.

1. Rule 1.1(a) of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer shall not handle a legal matter which the lawyer knows or should know that the lawyer is not competent to handle, without associating with a lawyer who is competent to handle it.

2. Is this a legitimate custody dispute or merely a strategy by the client to gain a better bargaining position or a method being used for blackmail or harassment purposes which could violate Rules 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, and 4.1 of the MRPC; and possibly warrant your refusal to accept or terminate representation pursuant to Rule 1.16 of the MRPC.

3. As an officer of the court, you have an obligation not only to your client, but also the court, opposing counsel and the child not to pursue a frivolous claim.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

A. The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970, MCL 722.2 1-29, governs child custody disputes.

B. MCL 722.23 provides that custody of a child is to be determined by the best interests of the child standard which means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated and determined by the court:

1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;

2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any;

3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;

4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;

7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;

8. The home, school, and community record of the child;

9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;

11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

C. MCL 722.26(A) provides in pertinent part that in custody disputes between parents, the parents shall be advised of joint custody. At the request of either party, the court shall consider an award for joint custody, and shall state on record the reasons for granting or denying a request. In other cases joint custody may be considered by the court. The court shall determine whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child by considering the following factors:

1. The twelve factors of the Child Custody Act as enumerated above; and

2. Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

III. CHILD CUSTODY LITIGATION CUENT QUESTIONNAIRE

These recommended questions are not meant to be a mandatory or exhaustive list. The appropriateness of the questions must be determined on a case by case basis.

A. Initial Considerations:

1. Is reconciliation a possibility?

2. Do you think mediation/conciliation services can help you and your spouse resolve the problems of parental responsibility and/or visitation?

B. Discussion as to joint custody (joint legal versus joint physical):

1. Do you believe the child's physical residence should be shared? What percentage for mother? What percentage for father?

2. Do you believe that parental responsibility of your minor child should be shared in all areas except physical residence?

3. Do you feel you and your spouse are able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child?

4. Some of the categories of shared parental responsibility follow. How do you feel with respect to those specific areas? Do you feel responsibility can be shared in all areas or shared only in some of those areas? Please state your answer and the degree of responsibility you and your spouse should have regarding each of the following

a. Education

b. Religious training

c. Discipline

d. Moral values

e. Medical and dental

f. Psychological and psychiatric care

g. Social activities

h. Extracurricular activities Recreational activities

j. Legal care

k. Financial involvement

I. Summer camp, travel and activities

m. Other (please list)

5. Please indicate what shared responsibility would be beneficial or detrimental to the child.

6. If the court decides that parental responsibility should be shared and thereafter you and your spouse disagree as to certain things, do you think mediation/conciliation could help resolve the differences? If not, can you suggest how disagreements might be resolved?

7. Do you think it would be beneficial to try shared parental responsibility in all or some of the categories for one year and thereafter visit the question after seeing whether or not it can work?

C. What is in the best interests of the child? The Child Custody Act provides that custody of a child is to be determined by the best interests of the child standard which means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated and determined by the court. Please state the strengths and weaknesses of you and your spouse with regard to the following statutory factors:

1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;

a. Who gets the child breakfast, lunch and dinner?

b. What are your child's favorite foods, TV programs, stories, etc.

c. How would you describe the child's relationship with you? With the other party?

d. How has the child been affected by the martial separation?

e. How would you go about correcting this?

f. Do you feel the bond and ties to the child are about equal between you and the other party?

g. Do you feel the bond is closer to you, and why?

h. How does your client know that you love him/her? What will your child say about this, if asked?

Which of you is more apt to hear about your child's problem, triumphs, adventures (i.e., comfort needed for a skinned knee, joy shared with a home run hit)?

j. When the child is upset, hurt or sick, does there seem to be a preference for whom the child goes to if both parents are available (Like waking parents up at night when sick or a bad dream)? Has this changed over time?

k. How does the child show you that he/she loves you? (e.g. saying "I love you", or physical affection)? Do you see this affection between the child and the other parent? Is there any preference in such expressions? Has this changed over time?

How would it effect you if the other parent got custody?

2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his/her religion or creed, if any;

a. Who feeds the child?

b. Who bathes/dresses the child?

c. Who stays home from work when the child is sick? Why is it that this person stays home (work schedule flexibility, sick days easier to get off, etc.)

d. Who arranged for nursery school enrollment/religious education?

e. How are these decisions made with the other party?

f. Who puts the child to bed?

g. How do you teach your child manners? How does the other party?

h. How do you discipline the child? How does the other party?

Describe a typical day with your child.

What is each party's present religious practice?

How does each party handle any fears manifested by the child if

they become aware of such?

I. What are the positive and negative points of each party's parenting skills as you see them?

m. How do you show your child love and affection?

n. Is there anything about yourself that affects your ability to give love, affection and guidance? How about the other party?

o. What kinds of activities do you share with the child; how much time is spent; how much involvement in the child's school and extracurricular activities do you spend? How much time does the other party spend?

p. What are the rules of the home; how is discipline handles; and do you and the other party agree/disagree and what form of discipline is used?

q. How is each party's ability to discipline themselves; who comes first, the parent or the child?

r. Has there ever been a time when you were too harsh or too angry with your child?

s. What do you see as the needs of children at the ages of your children? How do you think these needs will change? Has either parent attended parenting classes?

t. What parenting issues have you and the other parent argued about?

3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;

a. Who purchases the child's clothes, toys, and other equipment?

b. Who arranges for and takes the child to doctor/dentist appointments?

c. Who arranges for the babysitter/child care?

d. Are there any special needs of the child (medical, educational, speech, etc.)?

e. What is being done about these special needs and which party is attending to this? Who is better able to deal with this?

f. How well do you manage money?

g. How well do you feel the other party manages money?

h. What is the earning capacity of each party? If employed, what arrangements have been made for when the child is not in school?

i. How would you arrange for after school care, for time when the child is sick, for involvement with the school, for buying clothes, or getting the child to the doctor?

What future plans are there for education or training in order to prepare for future earning capacity?

4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

a. Describe the present custodial home.

b. Describe the proposed custodial home (i.e., Is it in the same geographic location? How will a move affect the child?)

c. Who sleeps where in each home?

d. Describe the housekeeping standards of each home.

e. What is the address of the custodial home; the length of time in the home; and who lives there?

f. Give an explanation of residential changes. if any.

g. How has the child adjusted to changes of residences?

h. Is the current home environment safe/stable for the child? Which home will provide the child with the most love, affection, guidance, moral. and spiritual training, educational and fulfillment opportunities?

Where do the child's friends and relatives reside?

k. What support system (relatives or babysitters) is available for each party and what proximity are these individuals to the existing or proposed custodial home?

5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;

a. What is the child's relationship to other siblings?

b. What is the child's relationship with the parents?

c. How do you think the child perceives the family unit?

d. What future home is proposed by the petitioning party, and what future relationships would that involve?

e. Do you have any immediate prospects of remarriage or a continuing relationship with a person who will be significant in the life of the child? If so, describe that person's relationship with the child and how this relationship may effect the factors in the Child Custody Act.

6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;

a. Has there been any drug and/or alcohol involvement by either party or stepparents? If so, how much; what treatment has been sought; and what has that individual's response been to that treatment?

b. Are there any romantic liaisons by either party? If so, what has the effect of said liaisons been on the child?

c. Is foul language used by either party in front of the child? If so, what effect has said language been on the child?

d. What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses or your moral beliefs? What are the other party's strengths and weaknesses or moral beliefs?

e. Have there been any allegations of physical or sexual abuse of this child or any other children by any party to this action? Have these allegations been confirmed?

f. Have there been any allegations of spousal abuse by any party to this action? Have these allegations been confirmed?

g. Does either party have a driving record (excessive violations, DUlL's, or reckless and/or careless driving convictions)?

h. What has the child's exposure to moral issues been and what has the child's response been to the same?

7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;

a. State the physical health, any chronic illness or medicine taken regularly of all parties to this action.

b. State the mental health history, marriage counseling or hospitalizations of all parties to this action.

c. Are any mental/emotional health problems related to divorce/custody disputes or to long-term instability?

8. The home, school, and community record of the child;

a. What school does the child attend?

b. What is the attendance record of the child?

c. What is the academic record of the child?

d. What is the child's attitude toward school?

e. In what extracurricular activities does the child participate? What is the parents' involvement in these activities, if any?

f. What are the child's responsibilities at home (cleans room, does dishes, mows grass, etc.)? What is the parents' involvement in the child's responsibilities?

g. Does the child have any juvenile or other agency involvement?

h. Does the child have close relationship with friends in the area?

i. Has the child ever been in psychotherapy or counseling?

j. Has the child developed any behavioral problems at home or at school which might be related to the divorce?

k. Has there been any changes in grades, moods, sleeping, eating, cooperation, or anger with the child and how does each parent deal with this or plan to deal with this?

I. Does the school have support groups for children whose parents are divorcing?

9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

a. Do you feel the child has a preference?

b. How do you feel the child would react if a change of custody is granted?

c. Why does the other party want this change of custody?

d. Why don't you want this change of custody?

e. Do you feel the child has been pressured by either of the parents?

10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;

a. What is your proposed visitation schedule?

b. Do you talk about the other parent in front of the child? If so, 1 in what manner?

c. How do you and the other party get along with each other?

d. Please give specific instances of where important decisions were made or discussed and explain how the process went with regard to cooperation or inability to cooperate, negotiate or reach a compromise.

e. Have you ever withheld contact or information regarding the children from the other party and why? Or under what

circumstances would you ever anticipate doing so?

f. If you got custody, how often would you want your children to see the other parent and the reasons for your response.

g. The attorney must assess statements made by his/her client throughout the interview to determine the willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other party.

11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witness by the child.

a. Do you know what domestic violence is?

b. Have you been a victim of domestic violence? If so, please detail the circumstances regarding the violence.

c. Please describe all "physical" incidents of domestic violence such as hitting, slugging, pushing, kicking, pulling of hair, shoving,

slapping, etc..

d. Please detail all "sexual" incidents of domestic violence which includes the forcing of sexual acts against her/his will.

e. Please detail all "physical (against property)" incidents of violence which is not directed towards the victim's body, but is the destruction of property, pets or other items belonging to the family member.

f. Please detail all forms of "psychological" incidents of domestic violence which can range from name calling to a campaign of terrorism. Psychological assault includes name calling, threats of violence towards a family member, threats of having one's partner committed or taking the children away, threats of homicide or suicide, etc..

g. Do you consider battering to include arguing, fighting or disagreeing, assertiveness or self defense?

h. Have you ever considered leaving the relationship? Why didn't you leave? (The answer to this question is very important in order to determine whether your client has been a victim of domestic violence, but is attempting to hide this information from you)

i. Have you ever physically, sexually or psychologically used force to control and maintain power over your spouse?

(There is no behavioral profile that identifies all batterers. However, a cluster of behaviors appear consistently. You may investigate with your client as to whether or not he/she or their spouse exhibit the following behaviors:

1. extreme jealousy

2. minimization of his/her actions (violence)

3. denial

4. rationalization

5. extremely controlling of his/her partner and the children

6. can not empathize with others

7. unrealistic expectations of others

8. blames others for his feelings

9. hypersensitivity to others criticisms

>

10. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality

11. background of family violence

12. can read other people (police, courts, therapists) well when he/she needs to protect himself

13. repetitive pattern of violence

14. when threatened will either respond by acting threatening

or submissive

15. increasing assaultive behavior over time

16. threats to kill and attempts to kill

17. will not allow his partner to leave him/her

12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

a. Are you aware of the availability of joint custody?

b. What is your understanding of joint custody?

c. Are there any other questions not covered in the previous factors that you deem necessary and have not answered previously?

0. Are there any other factors with reference to your spouse which you believe should be emphasized to the court which may affect the court's decision? A list of factors which judges sometimes consider are as follows:

(1) Occasional acts of adultery committed prior to separation.

(2) Occasional acts of adultery committed after separation.

(3) An ongoing affair that continues at this time.

(4) Living with a member of the opposite sex and intention to continue without getting married.

(5) Occasional acts of homosexuality.

(6) A practicing homosexual or bi-sexual.

(7) Sexual promiscuity.

(8) Engages in kinky sex.

(9) Conviction of a serious crime.

(10) Gambling - occasional, moderate stakes.

(11) Gambling - frequent, high stakes.

(12) Regular church attendance.

(13) Spouse's moral values.

(14) Objectional business practices.

(15) Objectional social practices.

(16) Marital misbehavior such as verbal abuse, belittling spouse in public, etc.

(17) Nature of party's personality (volatile, stable, etc.)

(18) Mental disease such as manic-depression or schizophrenia which cannot be controlled by medication and/or counseling.

(19) Spouse is neurotic.

(20) Serious physical disease (heart problems, cancer, etc.)

(21) Physical handicap.

(22) Alcohol abuse, drug abuse.

(23) Intelligence.

(24) Educational attainment.

(25) Status in community.

(26) Any other factors which you believe may be important.

E. As to each of the categories above, what would your spouse say about you? State why you believe it will or will not be important for the court to consider those factors.

F. List the five best things your spouse might be able to say about you concerning your parenting abilities and your relationship with your child.

G. List the five worst things your spouse might be able to say about you concerning your parenting abilities and your relationship with your child.

H. List the five best things you are able to say about your spouse concerning his/her parenting abilities and his/her relationship with the child.

List the five worst things you have to say about your spouse concerning his/her parenting abilities and his/her relationship with the child.

J. The attorney should attempt to find out how well the parent meets the child's need for supportiveness, consistency, education about the world and serving as a positive role model, It will be very difficult to get this information from the client, but you may want to ask the parent what they would do or have done in the following situations:

(1) The child is having a fight with a friend, how well does the parent handle the situation in a manner that would be fair to everyone.

(2) How often does the parent make sure the child does their jobs around the house? (What consequences are given if not done-for older children)

(3) Parent's involvement in homework, how helpful are they? How patient? How do they make sure that homework is done?

(4) How helpful does the child feel it would be to ask the parent about religion, or where babies come from (or if older) sex and babies?

(5) How well the parent helps the child calm down when anxious or when angry? Can the parent identify the kinds of things that make the child anxious or angry and how they respond to each situation?

(6) How much of the time the parent is in a good mood around the child?

(7) How well the parent takes criticism. One could ask the parent about situations where the child has criticized their behavior and what happened.

(8) How well the parent keeps promises. One could ask the parent about promises they've kept for the child.

(9) How trustworthy is the parent. How well would the child trust the parent with money or with taking care of a pet.

(10) How well the parent would take care of emergencies.

(11) How much the parent is in tune with the child's feelings and can detect if the child was upset if the child didn't say anything about it.

(12) Questions about the parent's assertiveness (speaking up when something unfair happens) altruism (helping neighbors)

(13) How patient and calm the parent is, for example, calm in an argument.

(14) How well the child feels the parent listens to him or her.

(15) How dearly the parent communicates with the child.

(16) How supportive the parent is in new situations.

K If you believe there will be a custody contest, list the names, addresses and telephone numbers of:

(1) All teachers your child has had for the past three years, state when and at what school.

(2) All psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors or therapists, doctors and dentists who have seen your child for the past three years, when and for what purpose.

(3) All friends, neighbors, relatives, and others who can state that you are the better custodian for your child, setting forth what they may say, whether or not they would be willing to testify and describe their relationship to you, i.e., friend, neighbor, etc..

L. Do you desire to or do you object to your child(ren) being removed from the immediate geographical area?

(1) Is there any basis upon which you believe that your spouse may at this time leave the area with your child(ren)?

(2) Is there any basis upon which you believe that your former spouse may leave the area with your children after a judgment of divorce is entered by the court?

CHILD CUSTODY QUESTIONNAIRE

MICHAEL A. ROBBINS, ESQ.

INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Should you accept a case.

1. Rule 1.1(a) of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct provides that a lawyer shall not handle a legal matter which the lawyer knows or should know that the lawyer is not competent to handle, without associating with a lawyer who is competent to handle it.

2. Is this a legitimate custody dispute or merely a strategy by the client to gain a better bargaining position or a method being used for blackmail or harassment purposes which could violate Rules 1.2, 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, and 4.1 of the MRPC; and possibly warrant your refusal to accept or terminate representation pursuant to Rule 1.16 of the MRPC.

3. As an officer of the court, you have an obligation not only to your client, but also the court, opposing counsel and the child not to pursue a frivolous claim.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

A. The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970, MCL 722.2 1-29, governs child custody disputes.

B. MCL 722.23 provides that custody of a child is to be determined by the best interests of the child standard which means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated and determined by the court:

1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;

2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any;

3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;

4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;

7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;

8. The home, school, and community record of the child;

9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;

11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

C. MCL 722.26(A) provides in pertinent part that in custody disputes between parents, the parents shall be advised of joint custody. At the request of either party, the court shall consider an award for joint custody, and shall state on record the reasons for granting or denying a request. In other cases joint custody may be considered by the court. The court shall determine whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child by considering the following factors:

1. The twelve factors of the Child Custody Act as enumerated above; and

2. Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

III. CHILD CUSTODY LITIGATION CUENT QUESTIONNAIRE

These recommended questions are not meant to be a mandatory or exhaustive list. The appropriateness of the questions must be determined on a case by case basis.

A. Initial Considerations:

1. Is reconciliation a possibility?

2. Do you think mediation/conciliation services can help you and your spouse resolve the problems of parental responsibility and/or visitation?

B. Discussion as to joint custody (joint legal versus joint physical):

1. Do you believe the child's physical residence should be shared? What percentage for mother? What percentage for father?

2. Do you believe that parental responsibility of your minor child should be shared in all areas except physical residence?

3. Do you feel you and your spouse are able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child?

4. Some of the categories of shared parental responsibility follow. How do you feel with respect to those specific areas? Do you feel responsibility can be shared in all areas or shared only in some of those areas? Please state your answer and the degree of responsibility you and your spouse should have regarding each of the following

a. Education

b. Religious training

c. Discipline

d. Moral values

e. Medical and dental

f. Psychological and psychiatric care

g. Social activities

h. Extracurricular activities Recreational activities

j. Legal care

k. Financial involvement

I. Summer camp, travel and activities

m. Other (please list)

5. Please indicate what shared responsibility would be beneficial or detrimental to the child.

6. If the court decides that parental responsibility should be shared and thereafter you and your spouse disagree as to certain things, do you think mediation/conciliation could help resolve the differences? If not, can you suggest how disagreements might be resolved?

7. Do you think it would be beneficial to try shared parental responsibility in all or some of the categories for one year and thereafter visit the question after seeing whether or not it can work?

C. What is in the best interests of the child? The Child Custody Act provides that custody of a child is to be determined by the best interests of the child standard which means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated and determined by the court. Please state the strengths and weaknesses of you and your spouse with regard to the following statutory factors:

1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;

a. Who gets the child breakfast, lunch and dinner?

b. What are your child's favorite foods, TV programs, stories, etc.

c. How would you describe the child's relationship with you? With the other party?

d. How has the child been affected by the martial separation?

e. How would you go about correcting this?

f. Do you feel the bond and ties to the child are about equal between you and the other party?

g. Do you feel the bond is closer to you, and why?

h. How does your client know that you love him/her? What will your child say about this, if asked?

Which of you is more apt to hear about your child's problem, triumphs, adventures (i.e., comfort needed for a skinned knee, joy shared with a home run hit)?

j. When the child is upset, hurt or sick, does there seem to be a preference for whom the child goes to if both parents are available (Like waking parents up at night when sick or a bad dream)? Has this changed over time?

k. How does the child show you that he/she loves you? (e.g. saying "I love you", or physical affection)? Do you see this affection between the child and the other parent? Is there any preference in such expressions? Has this changed over time?

How would it effect you if the other parent got custody?

2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his/her religion or creed, if any;

a. Who feeds the child?

b. Who bathes/dresses the child?

c. Who stays home from work when the child is sick? Why is it that this person stays home (work schedule flexibility, sick days easier to get off, etc.)

d. Who arranged for nursery school enrollment/religious education?

e. How are these decisions made with the other party?

f. Who puts the child to bed?

g. How do you teach your child manners? How does the other party?

h. How do you discipline the child? How does the other party?

Describe a typical day with your child.

What is each party's present religious practice?

How does each party handle any fears manifested by the child if

they become aware of such?

I. What are the positive and negative points of each party's parenting skills as you see them?

m. How do you show your child love and affection?

n. Is there anything about yourself that affects your ability to give love, affection and guidance? How about the other party?

o. What kinds of activities do you share with the child; how much time is spent; how much involvement in the child's school and extracurricular activities do you spend? How much time does the other party spend?

p. What are the rules of the home; how is discipline handles; and do you and the other party agree/disagree and what form of discipline is used?

q. How is each party's ability to discipline themselves; who comes first, the parent or the child?

r. Has there ever been a time when you were too harsh or too angry with your child?

s. What do you see as the needs of children at the ages of your children? How do you think these needs will change? Has either parent attended parenting classes?

t. What parenting issues have you and the other parent argued about?

3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;

a. Who purchases the child's clothes, toys, and other equipment?

b. Who arranges for and takes the child to doctor/dentist appointments?

c. Who arranges for the babysitter/child care?

d. Are there any special needs of the child (medical, educational, speech, etc.)?

e. What is being done about these special needs and which party is attending to this? Who is better able to deal with this?

f. How well do you manage money?

g. How well do you feel the other party manages money?

h. What is the earning capacity of each party? If employed, what arrangements have been made for when the child is not in school?

i. How would you arrange for after school care, for time when the child is sick, for involvement with the school, for buying clothes, or getting the child to the doctor?

What future plans are there for education or training in order to prepare for future earning capacity?

4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

a. Describe the present custodial home.

b. Describe the proposed custodial home (i.e., Is it in the same geographic location? How will a move affect the child?)

c. Who sleeps where in each home?

d. Describe the housekeeping standards of each home.

e. What is the address of the custodial home; the length of time in the home; and who lives there?

f. Give an explanation of residential changes. if any.

g. How has the child adjusted to changes of residences?

h. Is the current home environment safe/stable for the child? Which home will provide the child with the most love, affection, guidance, moral. and spiritual training, educational and fulfillment opportunities?

Where do the child's friends and relatives reside?

k. What support system (relatives or babysitters) is available for each party and what proximity are these individuals to the existing or proposed custodial home?

5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;

a. What is the child's relationship to other siblings?

b. What is the child's relationship with the parents?

c. How do you think the child perceives the family unit?

d. What future home is proposed by the petitioning party, and what future relationships would that involve?

e. Do you have any immediate prospects of remarriage or a continuing relationship with a person who will be significant in the life of the child? If so, describe that person's relationship with the child and how this relationship may effect the factors in the Child Custody Act.

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6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;

a. Has there been any drug and/or alcohol involvement by either party or stepparents? If so, how much; what treatment has been sought; and what has that individual's response been to that treatment?

b. Are there any romantic liaisons by either party? If so, what has the effect of said liaisons been on the child?

c. Is foul language used by either party in front of the child? If so, what effect has said language been on the child?

d. What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses or your moral beliefs? What are the other party's strengths and weaknesses or moral beliefs?

e. Have there been any allegations of physical or sexual abuse of this child or any other children by any party to this action? Have these allegations been confirmed?

f. Have there been any allegations of spousal abuse by any party to this action? Have these allegations been confirmed?

g. Does either party have a driving record (excessive violations, DUlL's, or reckless and/or careless driving convictions)?

h. What has the child's exposure to moral issues been and what has the child's response been to the same?

7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;

a. State the physical health, any chronic illness or medicine taken regularly of all parties to this action.

b. State the mental health history, marriage counseling or hospitalizations of all parties to this action.

c. Are any mental/emotional health problems related to divorce/custody disputes or to long-term instability?

8. The home, school, and community record of the child;

a. What school does the child attend?

b. What is the attendance record of the child?

c. What is the academic record of the child?

d. What is the child's attitude toward school?

e. In what extracurricular activities does the child participate? What is the parents' involvement in these activities, if any?

f. What are the child's responsibilities at home (cleans room, does dishes, mows grass, etc.)? What is the parents' involvement in the child's responsibilities?

g. Does the child have any juvenile or other agency involvement?

h. Does the child have close relationship with friends in the area?

i. Has the child ever been in psychotherapy or counseling?

j. Has the child developed any behavioral problems at home or at school which might be related to the divorce?

k. Has there been any changes in grades, moods, sleeping, eating, cooperation, or anger with the child and how does each parent deal with this or plan to deal with this?

I. Does the school have support groups for children whose parents are divorcing?

9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

a. Do you feel the child has a preference?

b. How do you feel the child would react if a change of custody is granted?

c. Why does the other party want this change of custody?

d. Why don't you want this change of custody?

e. Do you feel the child has been pressured by either of the parents?

10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;

a. What is your proposed visitation schedule?

b. Do you talk about the other parent in front of the child? If so, 1 in what manner?

c. How do you and the other party get along with each other?

d. Please give specific instances of where important decisions were made or discussed and explain how the process went with regard to cooperation or inability to cooperate, negotiate or reach a compromise.

e. Have you ever withheld contact or information regarding the children from the other party and why? Or under what

circumstances would you ever anticipate doing so?

f. If you got custody, how often would you want your children to see the other parent and the reasons for your response.

g. The attorney must assess statements made by his/her client throughout the interview to determine the willingness to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other party.

11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witness by the child.

a. Do you know what domestic violence is?

b. Have you been a victim of domestic violence? If so, please detail the circumstances regarding the violence.

c. Please describe all "physical" incidents of domestic violence such as hitting, slugging, pushing, kicking, pulling of hair, shoving,

slapping, etc..

d. Please detail all "sexual" incidents of domestic violence which includes the forcing of sexual acts against her/his will.

e. Please detail all "physical (against property)" incidents of violence which is not directed towards the victim's body, but is the destruction of property, pets or other items belonging to the family member.

f. Please detail all forms of "psychological" incidents of domestic violence which can range from name calling to a campaign of terrorism. Psychological assault includes name calling, threats of violence towards a family member, threats of having one's partner committed or taking the children away, threats of homicide or suicide, etc..

g. Do you consider battering to include arguing, fighting or disagreeing, assertiveness or self defense?

h. Have you ever considered leaving the relationship? Why didn't you leave? (The answer to this question is very important in order to determine whether your client has been a victim of domestic violence, but is attempting to hide this information from you)

i. Have you ever physically, sexually or psychologically used force to control and maintain power over your spouse?

(There is no behavioral profile that identifies all batterers. However, a cluster of behaviors appear consistently. You may investigate with your client as to whether or not he/she or their spouse exhibit the following behaviors:

1. extreme jealousy

2. minimization of his/her actions (violence)

3. denial

4. rationalization

5. extremely controlling of his/her partner and the children

6. can not empathize with others

8. blames others for his feelings

9. hypersensitivity to others criticisms

10. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality

11. background of family violence

12. can read other people (police, courts, therapists) well when he/she needs to protect himself

13. repetitive pattern of violence

14. when threatened will either respond by acting threatening

or submissive

15. increasing assaultive behavior over time

16. threats to kill and attempts to kill

17. will not allow his partner to leave him/her

12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

a. Are you aware of the availability of joint custody?

b. What is your understanding of joint custody?

c. Are there any other questions not covered in the previous factors that you deem necessary and have not answered previously?

0. Are there any other factors with reference to your spouse which you believe should be emphasized to the court which may affect the court's decision? A list of factors which judges sometimes consider are as follows:

(1) Occasional acts of adultery committed prior to separation.

(2) Occasional acts of adultery committed after separation.

(3) An ongoing affair that continues at this time.

(4) Living with a member of the opposite sex and intention to continue without getting married.

(5) Occasional acts of homosexuality.

(6) A practicing homosexual or bi-sexual.

(7) Sexual promiscuity.

(8) Engages in kinky sex.

(9) Conviction of a serious crime.

(10) Gambling - occasional, moderate stakes.

(11) Gambling - frequent, high stakes.

(12) Regular church attendance.

(13) Spouse's moral values.

(14) Objectional business practices.

(15) Objectional social practices.

(16) Marital misbehavior such as verbal abuse, belittling spouse in public, etc.

(17) Nature of party's personality (volatile, stable, etc.)

(18) Mental disease such as manic-depression or schizophrenia which cannot be controlled by medication and/or counseling.

(19) Spouse is neurotic.

(20) Serious physical disease (heart problems, cancer, etc.)

(21) Physical handicap.

(22) Alcohol abuse, drug abuse.

(23) Intelligence.

(24) Educational attainment.

(25) Status in community.

(26) Any other factors which you believe may be important.

E. As to each of the categories above, what would your spouse say about you? State why you believe it will or will not be important for the court to consider those factors.

F. List the five best things your spouse might be able to say about you concerning your parenting abilities and your relationship with your child.

G. List the five worst things your spouse might be able to say about you concerning your parenting abilities and your relationship with your child.

H. List the five best things you are able to say about your spouse concerning his/her parenting abilities and his/her relationship with the child.

List the five worst things you have to say about your spouse concerning his/her parenting abilities and his/her relationship with the child.

J. The attorney should attempt to find out how well the parent meets the child's need for supportiveness, consistency, education about the world and serving as a positive role model, It will be very difficult to get this information from the client, but you may want to ask the parent what they would do or have done in the following situations:

(1) The child is having a fight with a friend, how well does the parent handle the situation in a manner that would be fair to everyone.

(2) How often does the parent make sure the child does their jobs around the house? (What consequences are given if not done-for older children)

(3) Parent's involvement in homework, how helpful are they? How patient? How do they make sure that homework is done?

(4) How helpful does the child feel it would be to ask the parent about religion, or where babies come from (or if older) sex and babies?

(5) How well the parent helps the child calm down when anxious or when angry? Can the parent identify the kinds of things that make the child anxious or angry and how they respond to each situation?

(6) How much of the time the parent is in a good mood around the child?

(7) How well the parent takes criticism. One could ask the parent about situations where the child has criticized their behavior and what happened.

(8) How well the parent keeps promises. One could ask the parent about promises they've kept for the child.

(9) How trustworthy is the parent. How well would the child trust the parent with money or with taking care of a pet.

(10) How well the parent would take care of emergencies.

(11) How much the parent is in tune with the child's feelings and can detect if the child was upset if the child didn't say anything about it.

(12) Questions about the parent's assertiveness (speaking up when something unfair happens) altruism (helping neighbors)

(13) How patient and calm the parent is, for example, calm in an argument.

(14) How well the child feels the parent listens to him or her.

(15) How dearly the parent communicates with the child.

(16) How supportive the parent is in new situations.

K If you believe there will be a custody contest, list the names, addresses and telephone numbers of:

(1) All teachers your child has had for the past three years, state when and at what school.

(2) All psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors or therapists, doctors and dentists who have seen your child for the past three years, when and for what purpose.

(3) All friends, neighbors, relatives, and others who can state that you are the better custodian for your child, setting forth what they may say, whether or not they would be willing to testify and describe their relationship to you, i.e., friend, neighbor, etc..

L. Do you desire to or do you object to your child(ren) being removed from the immediate geographical area?

(1) Is there any basis upon which you believe that your spouse may at this time leave the area with your child(ren)?

(2) Is there any basis upon which you believe that your former spouse may leave the area with your children after a judgment of divorce is entered by the court?