In my humble opinion:
You're golden, and it'll probably be only by some royal screw-up on your part if the outcome isn't close to what you think is
best for your daughter. You're in a better spot than
most fathers in an evaluation. Most of us aren't
lucky enough to have ex's who don't realize that the
evaluator is the most important person to impress.
So, you know that your ex is already screwing herself
with the evaluator, so you can back off trying show
the bad about your ex and concentrate more on your
daughter when talking with the evaluator.
E.g., the evaluator may have asked you what you
thought of your ex sitting in a car for 2 hours "lost"
to see if you were connected to what's best for a 1
year old. She may have dropped that comment (about
shame child was in the car) to see if you immediately
had empathy for the same.
At no time should you assume the evaluator is your
friend. It's her job to put you at ease, to see what
you really think.
If I were in your position based upon what you wrote, I'd be seeking sole custody, and
I'd lay out my plan ASAP to the evaluator on how I'll raise my 1 year old with sole custody-- that I'm ready and prepared right NOW... not an approach that I'd start planning IF I got sole custody.
Forgive me if you're already doing all this with your
evaluator, but I know nothing except what you wrote.
Elements to drill into the evaluator include:
a) "My job is pretty flexible in sick time, coming in
late, leaving early, etc. My daughter comes first,
and my employer is really sensitive to parents' needs.
(Or better-- I can telecommute half the time)."
b) "My mother/sister/cousin/aunt/grandmother/neighbor
has been in daughter's live since birth, and this
person is willing to help with daycare."
c) "I'm not really a social butterfly, so I have no
night life. I'll be home every evening."
d) "BTW, did I mention that I completed a parenting
class? I just wanted to be as educated as possible
about parenting approaches."
e) "My home is sufficient for raising my daughter.
It's child-proofed (either learn what this means or
hire a pro to do it-- like cabinet locks, outlet
f) "I've already got her on waiting lists at ABC and
XYZ preschools to start when she's 3. Both these
facilities have excellent reputations."
g) "I really want my child's mother to be involved in
her life as much as she can do in a healthy manner. I
don't think she's demonstrated the responsibility to
be a primary caretaker. But her spending frequent
evenings (e.g., once or twice a week) or a weekend (at
most) with our daughter is probably the best for which
I can hope."
h) "For both my daughter and my ex, I'd hope you can
recommend counseling for her as part of your report.
I only wish she can find some way to handle life
i) "I've found a daddy-and-me activity class that
meets every Sunday. It's great, and daughter seems to
You get the idea. Hand yourself to the evaluator on a
silver platter with garnish laid out reading, "Father
of the Year".
The evaluator is already getting unimpressed with your
ex. So that leaves her to assess if you're capable
enough to handle raising this kid.
Given what you've shared, I can't imagine you'll get
less than 50/50.
Two books I'd recommend are: Divorce Poison (read
before your daughter is 2-- it's been very helpful for
me in starting from the beginning to recognize and
address any signs of alienation attempts in my
The other book is Win Your Child Custody War (by
Hardwick). It's $80, 600 pages thick, and it gives
excellent guidance on strategies, mind-frames, and
do/don't lists. It will serve you in coming years, as
well as now. It's the only book you'll need for
guidance through this.
For convenience, I've got links to both these books on Amazon located on my Recommended Resources
KEEP IN MIND:
The anger and offense you feel about all the things I'm sure you wife has done will never go away. Every new unfair, unjust, deceitful thing
she does will offend you anew. This process isn't
about prosecuting her character as it is about trying
to do what's best for your daughter. Always keep your daughter in mind, not your wife.
In doing what's best for your daughter, it may cause some character assassination of your wife, but it shouldn't be the reverse approach.
Please let me know how it turns out for you.