Does your house pass the household checklist?
If I were to walk into your house, taking notes about my observations, what would I have to say about your children and about the way they are being raised? What information and inferences would I walk away with after an hour-long tour of your home?
These are important questions to consider, especially if your custody case is one of the thousands of cases each year that require a home evaluation. Judges often require social workers, children’s services workers or other officials to make a walk-through inspection of the parents’ homes where living conditions, safety and social relationships have been placed in question. Here are some of the issues that will undoubtedly appear on the inspector’s checklist:
(1). What are the sleeping arrangements for the children? Is there suitable living space and is it allocated reasonably among household members?
(2). How clean, safe and well-maintained is the property? (Are there are noteworthy fire hazards, electrical problems, pest infestations?)
(3). Do the children exhibit a sense of belonging? Do they decorations, their belongings, their interactions, and their behavior support a sense of being “at home”?
(4). What are the physical and geographical aspects of the neighborhood — housing density, lawns, yards, streets and highways, proximity to parks, schools, and recreational facilities.
(5). What family relationships exist within the household? Is there a sense of discipline, responsibility, respect for privacy? Are the parents in charge? Are there open lines of communication? Do the children’s facial expressions and reactions to a visitor appear healthy? Ordinary?
Answering these questions before a household inspection will help you demonstrate the level of care and parental responsibility to win a custody case. They will also enable you to address any legitimate concerns or problems before they become legal issues in Family Court.