If you and your spouse have minor children and are going through or considering divorce, it is imperative you know about and understand the importance of a 730 evaluation. California family courts use a 730 evaluation as one of its many tools to settle custody and visitation disputes between parents.
The courts do so in a way that serves the best interests of the minor children, not necessarily the parents.
What is Child Custody in California?
There are two types of child custody in California. These are legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make all significant decisions on behalf of a child. These decisions can include:
- Medical care
- Living arrangements
- Religious orientation
Physical custody refers to the residence of the child. Parents may share legal and physical custody, have sole legal or physical custody or have a combination of the two. A 730 evaluation assists the court in assigning legal and physical custody rights to a child’s parents.
What is Reviewed in a 730 Evaluation?
In a 730 evaluation a number of professional reviews are made regarding:
- The family
- The children’s relationships with their family
- The children’s relationships with family members
- The children’s living arrangements
These reviews are often conducted with the help of mental health professionals and an evaluator who may be asked to testify in court about their findings.
Who Can Request a 730 Evaluation?
A judge may order a 730 evaluation or either parent can request a 730 evaluation.
Who are the Evaluators?
The evaluators in a 730 evaluation are approved experts, certified yearly, and in good standing with their profession. Evaluators are neutral parties whose goal is to determine the best interests of the children in any case they are assigned.
Evaluators typically have years of experience in family law and often have master’s degrees in mental health or other relevant fields.
What Do the Evaluators Investigate in a 730 Evaluation?
A 730 evaluation is formal and comprehensive. Evaluators investigate a family’s medical and mental health histories, consult with past experts who have provided services or support to the family, and conduct on-site investigations of the children’s living arrangements.
- Investigate any history of substance abuse, child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
- Conduct one-on-one interviews with members of the family, friends, and colleagues of the parents
- May order a mental health assessment
How Long Does a 730 Evaluation Take?
A 730 evaluation takes approximately three months to complete. At the conclusion of the evaluation, the evaluator provides the court with their findings and recommendations. The court tends to rely on these findings when making its rulings.
Contact an Experienced Attorney in Los Angeles
If you would like to learn more about California’s divorce and child custody process, call the experienced Los Angeles child custody attorneys at Fernandez & Karney. We will gladly discuss the likelihood of a 730 evaluation in your case and its potential impact on your child custody and visitation plan.