In child custody disputes in California, a child custody evaluation (or a “730 evaluation”) may be ordered by the court. It’s a study of the parents and children conducted by a court-appointed mental health professional. Final child custody evaluation reports recommend a parenting and custody plan to the court. In southern California, if you expect that a child custody dispute will be a part of your divorce, you’ll need trustworthy and experienced counsel from the very start of the divorce process.
California judges use child custody evaluations to obtain an outsider’s objective assessment of the parenting skills of the parents and the needs of the child or children. A mental health professional compiling a child custody evaluation may conduct interviews with family members together and individually, may conduct psychological tests, visit each parent’s home, and interview third parties if necessary. If your family undergoes a child custody evaluation, have patience; the process can take up to six months to complete.
You’ll be scrutinized throughout the evaluation, so you’ll want to maintain the highest parenting standards. In the past, California courts ordered child custody evaluations only in the most contentious custody disputes, but in recent years, the courts are ordering more evaluations as a tool for helping determine the best interests of the child or children. A mental health professional’s recommendation gives a judge assurance that he or she is making the right custody decision. The recommendations are often ordered without changes.
Nothing is more important than your children. In any child custody dispute, you must have a trustworthy advocate fighting aggressively on your behalf. In southern California, that advocate is an experienced Orange County family law attorney. If you are divorcing with children, don’t wait. Make the call immediately – for them.