Divorce can deny a child a safe and stable home growing up when parents engage in constant, heated disputes. So, both spouses or the judge may request or require a thorough investigation to evaluate a child’s best interests. For cases that involve alleged abuse or mental health concerns, California law may ask parents to undergo a 730 psychological evaluation.
It is a comprehensive assessment conducted by qualified mental health professionals to closely examine the family dynamics, gather relevant information and help the court make informed decisions about the child’s well-being.
What to expect
It can take a few months to complete the evaluation. During this time, the evaluator works to obtain an accurate picture of the child’s environment and relationships by:
- Keeping an eye on the child’s living arrangements
- Conducting separate or joint interviews with both parents
- Observing parent-child interactions and how the child relates with extended family members
- Checking the parents’ medical history, or a history of substance abuse or domestic violence
- Reviewing relevant documents, such as police and Department of Social Services records
The evaluator can offer their recommendations to aid the judge in weighing all possible factors. Since the judge does not have close encounters with the parents and the child, the evaluator’s insights can greatly influence the judge’s final decision.
How to prepare
Preparation is a crucial step to achieve desired outcomes. During the 730 evaluation, parents must ensure they display respect, avoid talking negatively about the other parent and simply focus on their child. They must also keep appropriate documentation ready to prove their claims. Further, if they wish to challenge an evaluator’s report, their legal team can guide them with options that can protect their rights and their child’s future.