Child Custody Evaluation FL 3111
Family Court Evaluations Brochure
The fundamental purpose of the services you receive from your Court system is to assist you in providing for the best interests of your children. As parents, it is your right and responsibility to\ guide each child to healthy and productive citizenship. Our role as Evaluators is to carefully listen to you and gather information. We are required to share this with the Judge or Commissioner hearing your case. The report is guided by the "best interest of the child" as defined in Family Code section 3011.
The Goal of the Evaluation
Our goal is to assist the parents and family members to come to a resolution of the issues, which brought you to the Court. The benefit of a child custody evaluation is to have a professional who is knowledgeable about children, families, and child custody issues give an objective viewpoint. We provide you, the court, and the attorneys with a written report containing objective psychosocial information and recommendations. The report assists the court or the parents in reaching a solution, which serves the interests of the children.
The law directs us to look at the health, safety, and welfare of your child. We are also guided by the assumption that both parents should have meaningful and substantial participation in their child's life. There are a variety of issues involved in assessing the best interests of the child, but fundamentally we ask the questions - Is the child safe? loved? cared for?
Criteria which cause a Court Evaluation to be Ordered
If the custody issue is not settled during CCRC and the parents have serious concerns about each other's ability to parent the children involved, a child custody evaluation may be indicated. The following are some criteria, which may be used to determine if an evaluation would contribute to a better understanding of the family and help the judge in issuing orders serving the needs of the children.
- Allegations have been raised that either (or both) parent behaves in a manner that could potentially harm the children.
- The social and/or physical environment of either (or both) parent appears to be detrimental to the welfare of the children.
- The child has special needs requiring special considerations.
- One parent wishes to relocate with the children and the move will impair continuing and frequent contact between the child and the other parent.
- One or both parents have problems with substance abuse or show other clear problems, which render them ineffective or harmful as parents.
Types of Evaluations
The Court can order either a Full or a Focused evaluation. Psychological testing is also sometimes ordered. A "Full evaluation, investigation, or assessment" is a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of the child. A Full evaluation typically requires about 15-20 hours of the Evaluator's time. A "Focused" evaluation " is an examination of the best interest of the child that is limited by court order in either time or scope. The Partial or Focused Evaluation requires about 12-18 hours of investigation, interviews and report preparation. Evaluations are conducted as described in Court Rule 5.220 Uniform Standards for Practice for Court-Ordered Child Custody evaluations. The evaluation process may include:
- Interviews with both parents, either together or individually,
- Observation of the children with each parent (this could take place in each parent's home, at the court, or in a private evaluator's office) and interviews with other members of the household,
- Individual age appropriate interviews with each child, including step or half siblings,
- Interviews with other significant people who may provide pertinent information,
- Collection of any relevant corroborating information or documents including legal and criminal background checks.
The Evaluators exercise discretion in selecting persons (teachers, doctors, etc.) to talk to who are most likely to contribute information vital to determining the best interests of the children. They also consider all information only as it is relevant to the best interests of the child.
The child custody evaluation will not begin until the payments have been received and proof of payment is available to the child custody evaluator.
You are expected to make your check payable to: Placer Superior Court through the Court's Finance Office at 10820 Justice Center Drive, Roseville CA 95678.
The fees are due at the time the Evaluation is ordered. The petitioner and respondent shall each pay the fee that the judge has ordered for their share of the evaluation. The court reserves jurisdiction to reapportion the responsibility for the fees between the parties. Parties shall each pay their fee in advance for the 3111-child custody evaluation. The court may lower or waive the cost of an evaluation based on an assessment of the parent's financial situation.
The Evaluation report will describe what procedures were used and all sources of information central to reaching the recommendation. The report contains a summary of the information collected, the evaluator's assessment of the family dynamics and the needs of the children, and responds to the orders concerning the focus of the Evaluation, such as parenting plan or sharing of time. Recommendations are usually made.
The original report is sent ten (10) days prior to the hearing to the court, copies are sent to each pro per party and/or the attorneys. If this is not possible, notice will be given by the evaluator.
The Report is Not "Children’s Business"
We also request that information contained in the report be discussed in a way that ensures the children's well-being is protected at all times. Each parent is asked to behave in a way that does not cause the children to suffer any repercussions as a result of their statements. Under no circumstances should the report be shared with, read to, or discussed with, the children.
Limitations on the confidentiality of the process
The information the Evaluator gathers about you and your family is confidential according to the guidelines of the Family Law Court. The information in the report will be shared with the Judge/Commissioner and the other parties involved in your case. Court Evaluators make reports to Child Protective Services if they suspect child abuse or neglect; and, to proper authorities as necessary.
Child custody evaluation staff
The Court Evaluators have a license as an MFT, LCSW or Phd and a minimum of a master's degree in behavioral science and at least two years post graduate experience in working with families and children. The staff of the Placer Superior Courts Evaluation Services have a background in social work, marriage and family therapy, or psychology. All the Evaluators have a strong background in investigations and family services. The staff has also received extensive training in evaluation in accordance with the Rules of Court 5.220 and 5.225 Placer Superior Court may assign your evaluation to an in-house evaluator or to an assigned contract evaluator.
Communications with parties & attorneys
From the beginning of the evaluation until the recommendations have been formulated the Evaluator maintains a neutral position. The Court process has special rules about when the matters can be discussed. There should not be ex parte communication. Other than as directed by the Evaluator, information you have to offer in this process has to be shared with all parties at the same time. Your Evaluator will explain this to you to avoid any problems.
There shall be no ex parte communications between the attorneys for either party, or the evaluator, or between the evaluator and the court. The attorney shall not speak to the Evaluator pertaining to the merits of the case unless all parties and any attorney of record for the child are present to participate (either in person or by telephone).
No attorney or party to the action shall provide the evaluator with documents, tapes, or photos pertaining to the case without first providing the other side and any attorney of record for the child a copy of the documents with a valid proof of service attached (See Placer Rules of Court).
Court Testimony by an Evaluator
Any request for Court employed evaluator to be present at a hearing for the purpose of cross examination should be delivered to the Director of Family Court Services/Child Custody Evaluator's office at least 28 working days prior to the appearance date along with the appropriate deposit to cover the evaluator's time. An up front non-refundable fee of $150 should be attached to any subpoena that requires the evaluator to appear at court or be present at a deposition. If the evaluator was a Contract Evaluator, the Subpoena shall be served at the evaluator's private office. It should be noted that a subsequent bill could be issued to the party who filed the subpoena as payment for the evaluator's time. The private contractors may set an hourly rate for their testimony in court (See Placer Rules of Court)..
Questions and complaints
Feedback from the users of the child custody evaluation office is very important and serves to improve the evaluation process. Complaints about services provided by Evaluators shall be addressed in writing to:
Placer County Superior Court
Director: Family Court Services
10820 Justice Center Drive, Roseville CA 95678
The Director or the Court Assistant Executive Officer will review the complaint, the case file, and discuss the matter with the evaluator. A response will be made to the person filing a complaint. If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved, it may be brought to the attention of the Supervising Family Law Judge at the same address.
A Brief Outline of the Evaluation Process