A child custody evaluation is a process in which a mental health professional, typically a licensed psychologist, conducts an in-depth assessment of the child, the parents, and the family dynamics to provide the court with recommendations for custody and visitation arrangements.
In California, a court may order a child custody evaluation in cases where there is a dispute over custody or visitation, or when there are concerns about the child’s safety or well-being.
Here are some important things to know about child custody evaluations in California:
- Who conducts the evaluation: In California, child custody evaluations are conducted by licensed psychologists who have training and experience in conducting custody evaluations. The evaluator must be selected from a list of court-approved evaluators.
- The evaluation process: The evaluation process typically involves several steps, including a review of documents and records, interviews with the parents, children, and other relevant individuals, and psychological testing. The evaluator may also observe the parents and children interacting and may conduct home visits.
- The evaluation report: After completing the evaluation, the evaluator will prepare a report that includes their findings and recommendations for custody and visitation. The report is submitted to the court and is typically made available to the parties and their attorneys.
- The cost: The cost of a child custody evaluation varies depending on the evaluator, the complexity of the case, and other factors. The parties are typically responsible for paying for the cost of the evaluation.
- The role of the court: The court will consider the evaluator’s report along with other evidence presented in the case to make a decision about custody and visitation. The court is not required to follow the evaluator’s recommendations, but the report is given significant weight.
It’s important to note that child custody evaluations can be a lengthy and expensive process, and they may not be appropriate for all cases.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute in California, it’s important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on the best course of action based on the specific facts of your case