How Does a Child Custody Evaluation Work?

A child custody evaluation, which California law also refers to as a 730 evaluation, occurs when a divorce court appoints a neutral professional to investigate and evaluate your family situation. Following this assessment, the expert will provide a recommendation to the court about what he or she believes would be the best parenting plan for the parties’ child following a divorce. In other words, the child custody evaluator given an opinion about what custody and visitation arrangements would be in the best interests of the child.

A court either can appoint a child custody evaluator on its own motion, or upon the request of either or both parents in a divorce. The task of the evaluator is to complete a full investigation and assessment of the situation, provide a written report to the court, and testify as an expert witness at trial, if necessary. While the appointment of a custody evaluator may be, in part, to perform psychological testing of the parents and/or child, that is not the only function of an evaluator. The child custody evaluator may explore any issue that the court deems relevant to the divorce or parentage proceedings.

In most cases, a child custody evaluator is a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker. However, if no such evaluators are available, or the parties agree otherwise, the court can appoint an evaluator who is not professionally licensed in this manner. Whomever the court appoints as an evaluator, he or she must consider the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child as defined by the court order appointing him or her. The evaluator also must attempt to minimize the amount of psychological trauma on the child throughout the evaluation process, and provide an age-appropriate explanation of the child custody evaluation process, including any limitations on confidentiality, to the child involved in the evaluation.

The Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates know how to handle all of the different issues that a child custody case can involve, no matter how complex these issues may be. We understand how emotional and difficult these types of cases can be, and will be at your side throughout every step of the process. Contact our offices today to schedule a consultation with one of our California child custody lawyers and learn how we can help you with your case.