If your divorce involves adversarial child custody issues, you can ask for or the court may order a child custody evaluation. Also known as a “730 evaluation,” this is basically a study of your family, not necessarily a challenge of your fitness as a parent. It involves a meeting and discussions with an evaluator chosen by the court, and the process is so common as to be routine in California these days.
Very likely, this will be new ground for you — and you’ll want to get it right. At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help. Let’s begin by discussing how you should handle the 730 evaluation meeting, before moving on to how to discuss it with your children.
What to Do at Your 730 Evaluation
Be your best self at the meeting with your evaluator. Don’t try to be something you’re not, because it may be obvious to them. Most evaluators have handled hundreds of evaluations and are shrewd judges of character. Dress up nicely, be on time, and show respect. Don’t worry if you’re nervous; it’s expected.
Here are some other “dos” to keep in mind:
- Tell the truth, no matter how painful.
- Answer what the evaluator asks, without any asides.
- Willingly admit to your strengths and weaknesses as a parent.
- Recognize that it’s best for your kids to have relationships with both parents.
- Let the evaluator know you’re willing to consider a variety of custody and visitation plans, but tell them which you like best.
- Provide any missing paperwork or information ASAP, especially any involved with verifying your job and financial status.
Remember, your children’s well-being is what matters most here. That will definitely be the evaluator’s focus, so make it yours as well.
What Not to Do at Your 730 Evaluation
A negative attitude or bad behavior may irreparably damage your case during your 730 evaluation. Whatever happens, do not:
- Lose your temper.
- Volunteer negative information about your spouse. You can, however, answer the evaluator’s questions about his or her weaknesses as a parent.
- Downplay your spouse’s strengths as a parent.
- Rehearse what to say with your kids.
- Miss appointments with your evaluator, or arrive late.
- Break existing custody orders.
- Try to manipulate the evaluator.
How to Treat Your Evaluator
The Golden Rule applies here, so polite respect is always your best bet. You don’t want to be a pushover, but don’t act overly aggressive, either. If you want detailed advice on how to treat your evaluator, consult with a lawyer experienced with these evaluations.
Cooperation is most likely to get you the outcome you want. The evaluator is not your enemy, so don’t treat them as such. You may not get everything you want, but go into the evaluation expecting that possibility. Again, the evaluator wants what’s best for the children, not you.
Advise Your Children to Be Polite and Truthful
Whether toddlers or teenagers, your kids will be nervous about the evaluation process. They may or may not have decided who they want to live with. Soothe their fears, and explain to them that the evaluator will keep their best interests in mind. Advise them to behave well and answer all questions truthfully. Let them know the evaluator is just trying to learn about your family, and explain that the evaluation is needed because you and your spouse can’t agree on what’s best for them.
Talk to an Experienced Attorney About Your Child Custody Evaluation
At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we have more than 15 years of experience in handling family law, including child custody cases. Call us today for a free evaluation. We can guide you every step of the way, helping to ensure the best possible outcome for your child custody evaluation.