While not required in all cases, in some divorces, it will be necessary for one or both spouses to submit to what is known as a “730 evaluation.” In California, 730 evaluations are commonly utilized in connection with child custody determinations, although they can be used to resolve other aspects of a couple’s divorce as well.
So, What Is It?
A 730 evaluation is a tool that can be used to obtain expert advice to assist in formulating the terms of a couple’s divorce. The name is a reference to Section 730 of the California Evidence Code, which states:
“When it appears to the court, at any time before or during the trial of an action, that expert evidence is or may be required by the court or by any party to the action, the court on its own motion or on motion of any party may appoint one or more experts to investigate, to render a report as may be ordered by the court, and to testify as an expert at the trial of the action relative to the fact or matter as to which the expert evidence is or may be required. . . .”
In short, when a divorce judge or either spouse believes that it is necessary for an expert to render an opinion regarding a matter that is pertinent to the spouses’ divorce, the judge can appoint an expert to conduct an investigation, prepare a report, and testify in court. This is not the only way that spouses can seek expert assistance during their divorce – it is common to seek input from experts during the collaborative divorce process, for example – however, when only one spouse wants expert involvement, or when a judge believes that an expert opinion is necessary in order to provide appropriate guidance, then a 730 evaluation can be used to keep the spouses’ divorce moving forward.
When are 730 Evaluations Used?
In the divorce context, 730 evaluations are used for a variety of purposes, including child custody evaluations, business valuations, psychological evaluations, and evaluations of income available to pay financial support. In this article, we will focus on the use of 730 evaluations for purposes of establishing child custody. For example, a judge may order a 730 evaluation if there is evidence to suggest that there may be concerns about:
- Alcohol dependence or substance abuse in one or both parents’ homes;
- Risk of child abuse by either parent;
- Either parent’s ability to serve in a custodial capacity due to mental illness or incapacity;
- One parent moving out of California over the other parent’s objection; or,
- Contentious disagreements regarding what is in the children’s best interests.
What if I Want (or Don’t Want) a 730 Child Custody Evaluation?
If you believe that you may need to request a 730 evaluation in order to protect your legal rights or your children’s best interests in your divorce, or if you are concerned about being forced to undergo a 730 evaluation, you should speak with an attorney promptly. These are complex legal matters with the potential for significant and long-term implications, so it is important that you make informed decisions based on the advice of experienced legal counsel.
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