Preparing For a Child Custody Evaluation

Child Custody Evaluation

Custody mediation and a child custody evaluation are critical in any contested custody case. Therefore, it is imperative that you hire an attorney who can best help you navigate through the difficult process.

730 Child Custody Evaluation

It is common for California family court judges to order a Child Custody Evaluation, also referred to as a “730 Evaluation.” The purpose of this Evaluation is to look into the mental health and parenting practices of one or both of the parents to determine who is best fit to have custody.

While it is often the judge who orders the Evaluation, either divorcing spouse may also request a 730 Evaluation by agreement and by filing a “Stipulation.” Your family attorney will review your case and determine whether a 730 Evaluation will be appropriate in your specific circumstances.

When is a 730 Evaluation Necessary?

A California family court judge will request a 730 Evaluation when the best interest of the child is in question. Custody and visitation orders are often based on the findings of these evaluations, which could be ordered for a number of reasons, including:

– Concerns about child abuse
– Substance abuse
– Mental health problems
– One parent wants to move out of state and the other parent objects
– Parents cannot agree on mutual custodial arrangements

If the judge has ordered a 730 Evaluation in your case, your family attorney will help you with the process to ensure your rights are well protected.

Confidentiality and Evaluator Access to Privileged Records

You must first know that court ordered examinations are not privileged. Make sure you discuss this with your Ventura divorce lawyer so you can decide how to proceed.

It is best to be open with these proceedings, and failure to provide the evaluator with releases can affect the evaluator’s recommendations or final report, but you do not have to sign the releases if you do not wish.

The problems that can be caused by refusing to sign requested releases may, however, be less problematic than providing access to private information that could result in a far worse report. For example, psychologist/therapist records may reveal prior suicidal thoughts; medical records may also indicate testing or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, which could prove a fertile field for exploration by opposing counsel.

You must be completely open with your Ventura divorce lawyer so that the two of you may decide together what the best action to take will be. 

Psychological Testing

It is likely that you will be given a variety of psychological tests. During these tests, make sure to answer honestly without overanalyzing the questions. If you try to paint yourself in an overly positive light to skew the results, the evaluator will know, and will make note of it in their report. So do not let the tests get into your head; answer simply and truthfully and you will do fine.

If you are concerned about the tests, speak with your Ventura divorce lawyer, and they will help you feel comfortable and prepared.

Children are also often tested, usually using the Bricklin Perceptual Scales and the Perception of Relationship Test (PORT). They are not usually administered to children under the age of four.

Make sure to set up appointments with the child’s schedule in mind, so as to not change the child’s routine too much. And do NOT try to manipulate your child before the testing. This will only make your child more stressed and nervous, and will not help anyone.

Get Experienced Legal Counsel

The court’s determination of custody issues concerning your children involves numerous complicated factors. It is imperative that you hire a lawyer who specializes in diligently and effectively representing you in your child custody disputes, especially when a 730 Evaluation has been ordered.

To schedule a consultation with us please contact Lisa Zonder at (805) 632-6459.