Custody Evaluations in California: 3111 v. 730

In many high conflict cases, the Court cannot rely solely on the parties and the witnesses selected by the parties to come to an informed conclusion on child custody and visitation. The Court must rely on other professionals to investigate and evaluate the family’s circumstances. A custody evaluation is generally considered to be a matter of right to a noncustodial parent facing a request to move the children out of California. In California, there are generally three ways the Court can appoint evaluators.

Family Code section 3111: Family Code section 3111 authorizes the Court to appoint a child custody evaluator to perform an evaluation on the family. This can be a clinical psychologist but is typically a professionally trained social worker with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. These types of evaluations involve meetings with both parents, interviews with collateral contacts, and even involve visits to the homes of both parents. They usually take around a month to complete. While the Family Code section 3111 evaluation was once very popular in San Diego County, it is almost never used anymore. San Diego County Judges almost exclusively appoint Evidence Code section 730 evaluators, which allow for more in-depth evaluations and psychological testing. However, the less expensive Family Code section 3111 evaluation is still quite popular in Riverside County.

Evidence Code section 730: Evidence Code section authorizes the Court in all kinds of cases, not just family court cases, to appoint its own expert to investigate and render reports on matters of consequence. It is a broader statute than Family Code section 3111. Typically, Evidence Code section 730 evaluations involve psychological testing and are performed by clinical psychologists. They involve a more in-depth investigation than Family Code section 3111 evaluations. They are also more expensive and more time consuming. As noted above, they are quite prevalent in San Diego County. Both Family Code section 3111 evaluations and Evidence Code section 730 evaluations are available in Riverside County.

We understand that this is a sensitive situation that could greatly affect your family and your relationship with your children, and our team can provide you with the caring and outstanding legal counsel you need and deserve. If you would like to discuss your rights under California’s child custody laws, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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