Child Custody Evaluations - Info for Litigants

Types of Child Custody Evaluations

A Family Law Judicial Officer may order the parties in a child custody and visitation dispute to undergo an evaluation in order to obtain additional information regarding the best interests of the child(ren). When an evaluation is ordered by the court, the parties will have the opportunity to select a mutually-agreeable evaluator from the court’s Resource List. The types of child custody evaluations typically ordered in Family Law include a 3111 Evaluation, 3118 Evaluation or a 730 Evaluation as outlined below:

    • Child Custody 3111 Evaluation (pursuant to Family Code § 3111) – A 3111 Evaluation is ordered when there are questions or concerns regarding the custody and visitation arrangements and what would be in the child(ren)’s best interests. A 3111 Evaluation typically involves a home visit and meeting with both parents and the child(ren). Following the evaluation, the evaluator will submit a written report to the court regarding custody and visitation recommendations.

    • Child Custody 3118 Evaluation (pursuant to Family Code § 3118) – A 3118 Evaluation is ordered when the court determines there is a serious allegation of child sexual abuse as defined by Penal Code §11165.1.  In addition to conducting a home visit and interviewing family members, a 3118 Evaluation may also include consultation with child welfare services, law enforcement and Multi-Disciplinary Child Interview Teams (MDIT).

    •  Child Custody 730 Evaluation (pursuant to Evidence Code §730) – A 730 Evaluation is ordered when particular expertise is needed in the case. For child custody cases in Family Law, this area of expertise involves psychological testing and assessment. A home visit is typically not conducted and the parents and child are interviewed in the evaluator’s office.

Training Requirements and Qualifications of Child Custody Evaluators

Family Code Section 3110.5 outlines the education, experience and training requirements for child custody evaluators, which includes specific training for domestic violence cases and child sexual abuse. Child Custody Evaluator training requirements and qualifications are also specified in the California Rules of Court Rule 5.220 (Court-ordered child custody evaluations), Rule 5.225 (Appointment requirements for child custody evaluators) and Rule 5.230 (Domestic violence training standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators). Once an evaluator has been appointed to a case, he or she must file a declaration with the court (10 days before beginning the evaluation) stating they meet the minimum education, experience and training requirements.

730 Evaluators often conduct a psychological assessment of the parents as part of the evaluation process; therefore, 730 Evaluators must be qualified and appropriately licensed to administer, score, and interpret the psychological test.