The 730 Evaluation: How Can it Affect Child Custody?
A 730 Evaluation is an assessment performed by a court-appointed expert to assist in providing information and recommendations to the court regarding issues needing mediation. These expert evaluations are described in California Evidence Code 730. 730 evaluations are useful to the court in cases in which child custody is in dispute.
What is a Child Custody Evaluation?
A child custody evaluation is a type of 730 conducted to provide specific information and professional recommendations regarding the issues stemming from child custody. A child custody evaluation can be requested by a court or by one or both parents. As such, these cases determine the future of both the children and parents, as these evaluations can be a critical part of the process in determining child custody agreements.
The details of a child custody evaluation are described in detail in the California Rules of Court 5.220. The steps are as follows:
- Reviewing pertinent documents related to custody, including local police records;
- Observing parent-child interaction (unless contraindicated to protect the best interest of the child);
- Interviewing parents conjointly, individually, or both conjointly and individually (unless contraindicated in cases involving domestic violence), to assess:
i. Capacity for setting age-appropriate limits and for understanding and responding to the child’s needs;
ii. History of involvement in caring for the child;
iii. Methods for working toward resolution of the child custody conflict;
iv. History of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, and psychiatric illness; and
v. Psychological and social functioning;
- Conducting age-appropriate interviews and observation with the children, both parents, stepparents, step- and half-siblings conjointly, separately, or both conjointly and separately, unless contraindicated to protect the best interest of the child;
- Collecting relevant corroborating information or documents as permitted by law; and
- Consulting with other experts to develop information that is beyond the evaluator’s scope of practice or area of expertise.
Are The Recommendations Final?
If the recommendations on child custody are satisfactory to both parents, you can sign an agreement to follow the recommendations, speeding up the resolution of the case. However, in many cases, the evaluation is in favor of one parent over the other. If you disagree with an assessment, it is essential to know that the recommendations are not final. If you believe that the recommendation is fair to you or your child, you have the right to challenge it.
Several instances may lead to an evaluation to be challenged in court, like an evaluators bias is discovered, or a failure to consider relevant information can be proven. It is also the right of a parent to hire their own child expert to evaluate and provide recommendations to challenge a court-ordered 730 evaluation.
At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., we have over 35 years of experience in family law and are here to help. If you are concerned about a 730 evaluation, call us today at (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free consultation.