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Santa Barbara Attorney Explains the Role of Child Custody Evaluations

When mediation fails, the court may order a custody evaluation of the family

California Family Code Section 3111 allows the court in any contested proceeding involving child custody or visitation rights “to appoint a child custody evaluator to conduct a child custody evaluation in cases where the court determines it is in the best interests of the child.”

The court will not order a custody evaluation in every case, but if child custody mediation fails, the presence of the following indicators create a greater likelihood for an evaluation:

  • Evidence of child abuse by one or both parents
  • Substance abuse or other potentially harmful behavior by a parent
  • An unhealthy physical or social environment
  • Issues with long distance separation between parents
  • Significant mental or physical problems in the child

The court may order a full or focused custody evaluation. The full evaluation examines all aspects of the child’s health and safety within the context of the family situation. The focused evaluation is limited in scope to one or more aspects of concern.

A custody evaluation usually includes interviews with family members, including the child, siblings and parents, in-home observation, interviews with adults with whom the child interacts outside the home, and occasionally, psychological testing.

Attorney Glenn L. Robertson understands how stressful a child custody evaluation is for a family. One of his roles as your family lawyer is to prepare you for the evaluation.

The report creates a guideline for the parenting plan.

A child custody evaluation permits an objective professional to assess the social and psychological life of the child. The evaluator provides a report and recommendation for meeting the child support and custody needs of the child after the divorce. The process is confidential, and the information is only shared with the judge, the parties and their attorneys. If child abuse is involved, the report may be shared with Child Protective Services.

The report must be sent to the court ten days prior to the custody hearing, and it must also be served all parties. The court considers the recommendations and findings in the report when ruling on child custody cases.

Contact our legal team to represent you in Santa Barbara or Santa Maria

Contact Board Certified family lawyer Glenn L. Robertson before you initiate a child custody case so he can prepare you for the difficulties that frequently arise. Serving Santa Maria, Carpinteria, Lompoc, Summerland, Ventura and all of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, he can be reached online or at his Santa Barbara office at 833-568-3544. Weekend and after hours appointments available upon request.


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