What Is a 730 Evaluation in CA?
Divorce involves a lot of legal hoops and hurdles. When children are involved, the process is even more complex. If you are divorcing with kids, the court could order the parties to undergo a child custody evaluation, often called a “730 evaluation.” Read on to learn about the 730 evaluation, what to expect, and when the court will order such an evaluation. Call an experienced Claremont child custody and divorce attorney for help with a custody dispute or other family law matter in Southern California.
The 730 Evaluation in a Child Custody Matter
During the course of a divorce or child custody dispute, the court may order the parties to undergo a child custody evaluation. Colloquially, these are known as “730 evaluations” in reference to the section of the California Evidence Code pertaining to evaluations conducted by appointed experts.
When the court orders such an evaluation, the court will appoint an expert–typically a mental health professional or social worker–to conduct an in-depth analysis of each party, their children, and their family dynamics. The expert will consider the child’s health, safety, and welfare by evaluating the child’s relationship with their parents and other family members, their living arrangements, and other relevant matters. In addition to reviewing documentary evidence, the appointed expert will conduct professional interviews with and evaluations of the parties, the homes, other family members, the children, and the parents’ interactions with the children.
Ultimately, the expert evaluator will provide a report and recommendation detailing the expert’s findings regarding the parties and factors relevant to child custody. The expert may be called upon to testify in court. The expert’s job is to provide their analysis of the best interests of the child based upon their professional evaluations, the statements of each party, and other relevant evidence.
When Will a Court Order a 730 Evaluation?
A 730 evaluation is not required in every child custody dispute. Courts will typically order a 730 evaluation when there is a genuine question as to the best interests of the child. Factors that may contribute to a court’s decision to order a 730 evaluation include:
- Allegations of child abuse
- Allegations of drug use, mental health issues, criminal activity, or other welfare concerns
- The parents cannot agree on custody
- One parent wants to move out of state with the children
- Questionable parenting practices
- Concerns or unresolved disputes about the child’s upbringing
Who Chooses the Evaluator?
The 730 evaluation is meant to be conducted by a neutral expert whose only interest is the best interests of the child. The evaluator is not meant to be a partisan appointee beholden to either parent. As such, the evaluator will be chosen by the court. The court will either choose its own evaluator or solicit a list of options from the parties and choose from that list. Depending on the circumstances, the parties may agree on an evaluator and submit their communal choice to the judge.
Evaluators must satisfy certain requirements to qualify. Among other things, they must have sufficient training in the psychological and developmental needs of children as well as parent-child relationships, and they must have several years of postgraduate experience in the field. The evaluator will submit a declaration demonstrating their qualifications for approval by the court.
Call a dedicated California parental rights and child custody attorney at Blasser Law for assistance with a dispute over parental rights, child custody, property division, divorce, or any other California family law matter. The thorough, professional Claremont child custody legal team at Blasser Law is ready to assist clients with any family law concerns in the San Gabriel Valley or Los Angeles County. Contact our family law office at 877-927-2181.