Forensic Family Evaluation and Divorce
If you are headed for a messy divorce, one thing that may be coming your way is a Forensic Family Evaluation. An investigation into family circumstances in order for the court to make an informed decision on child custody issues. Commonly referred to as 730 evaluations, these can be emotionally draining. Having an experienced local divorce attorney by your side can help you through the worst of it.
When is a Forensic Family Evaluation Necessary?
A number of situations may merit the use of a 730 investigation. According to Rule 5.220, a custody evaluation may be ordered to examine the best possible outcomes for children in a contentious divorce. When parents are unable or unwilling to come to agreeable terms amongst themselves, it becomes the prerogative of the court to make a decision that will be in the best interests of the children. Circumstances such as the following may lead to such an investigation:
- One parent is moving out of the area and relocating minor children;
- A volatile split has made it impossible for parents to come to agreements related to minor children;
- There is an accusation of abuse against one parent.
The Call for a 730 Evaluation
For forensic family evaluations, there will be an investigation that will focus on the safety and welfare of children in terms of custody and visitation. As per Family Code section 3110, a trained, court-appointed investigator with a background in domestic relations or probation, for example, will be assigned the case. The length and breadth of forensic family evaluations may be limited or substantial, depending on the circumstances, and may address issues such as family dynamics, health issues, accusations of abuse, and more. When suspicions of sexual abuse arise, the investigation becomes much more detailed and invasive.
Forensic Family Investigator Report
The assigned investigator will be required to submit a report to the court within 10 days of a custody hearing. The report will contain recommendations based on the following:
- Consultations with child welfare services and law enforcement;
- A summary of information provided by child welfare agencies;
- Statements from parents and family members;
- Criminal background information of parents, including information related to substance abuse and/or domestic violence;
- Results of a medical examination if relevant, and written explanation of why it is not necessary if it is not included;
- A report detailing the therapeutic requirements of the children;
- A list of family members eligible for help through Victims of Crime Program;
- Additional information deemed pertinent.
Cost of a 730 Investigation
These investigations are time- and resource-consuming endeavors, often costing up to $6,000 or more. Beyond the financial damage, the emotional toll on parents and children can be explosive. Unless absolutely necessary, finding a more conciliatory method to determine custody and visitation issues is advisable.
Regardless of your circumstances, the knowledgeable team at Beck Law P.C., has the experience and know-how to address the issues of concern to you. If you live in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California, contact our Santa Rosa office to schedule a confidential consultation today.