Custody Investigations

730 Evaluation
The term 730 evaluation comes from the Evidence Code section 730 that allows courts to appoint experts to investigate, report, and testify about issues relevant to the case. In family law, it often refers to a custody evaluation to determine the best interests of the minor child.  However, it can also refer to other issues that  may be presented.

In a custody evaluation a therapist investigates the family to determine what type of custody would be in the best interest of the children. In most investigations, the investigator interviews the parents and the children. In addition, the investigator may interview extended family members, teachers, instructors, etc. 

Family Code Section 3110 states that a court appointed investigator can be a probation officer, domestic relations investigator, or court appointed evaluator directed by the court to conduct an investigation.

To become a court appointed evaluator, the evaluator must complete the domestic violence and child abuse training program as well as meet the qualifications of Family Code section 3110.5 . A court evaluator shall declare under penalty of perjury that he or she meets all of the education, experience, and training requirements and that he or she possesses a license in good standing. 

If requested by the family court, the investigator shall prepare a written, confidential report for the court of his or her evaluation. At least 10 days before the hearing, the report shall be filed with the clerk of the court and served on the parties or their attorneys. These reports are highly confidential and cannot be disclosed to third parties.  Disclosure could result in sanctions against the parties.  Family Code section 3111 .

All evaluators must use similar interview, assessment and testing procedures that are consistent with generally accepted clinical, forensic, scientific, diagnostic or medical standards. Evaluators must inform each adult party of the purpose, nature, and method of the evaluation.

Each party has the right to call the investigator into court and conduct cross-examination. No statement, either written or oral, or conduct shall be considered a waiver by either party of the right to cross-examination unless the statement or conduct occurs after the report has been received by the party.  Family Code 3115 .