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730 Evaluation

From time to time, one party or the other (or even the Court) may request the use of a forensic evaluator, or “730 evaluator,” – a professional, expert, who provides a report to the Court with regard to a specific issue.  In the Family Law arena, during the course of a divorce, or child custody and child visitation action, these evaluations are often used by the Courts to obtain an expert opinion about the “best interest of the child.”   California law dictates that child custody and child visitation plans be based on the best interest of the child.  Evaluators make recommendations to the Court, through reports based on data that they gather through interviews with the parties and the children, through observations of the parents interacting with the children, and through multiple psychological tests.  Although the evaluators have extensive education and training, their recommendations are only that; ultimately, the decisions about custody and visitation will be left to the judge.   Most evaluations may take a significant amount of time, due to competing schedules and conflicting considerations of those involved; and most evaluations will cost the parties a few thousand dollars.  The finished report is used as a tool to provide additional information that the Court may not have, in making the best child custody decision possible.  The law, under the California Family Code, limits the evaluator to an opinion that fits within their training and experience, so finding the right evaluator is very important.   If you have any questions regarding “730 evaluations,” child custody, or other family law matters, the Law Office of Heath L. Baker...

Don’t badmouth the other parent

One of the hardest things to do in a divorce is keep your mouth shut.  All too frequently I find myself trying to put out fires that a client has started, because they could not refuse to take the bait of their former spouse.  Keeping quiet, and avoiding a verbal confrontation is even more important when the parties have children.  Focus your efforts on co-parenting opposed to nit-picking the other parent’s faults. I tell every client to live as if, “your children are always awake.”  What I mean is, act and live as if your children are always present during your conversations with the other parent.  Although your child may not be with you during the conversation, children have a way of noticing your demeanor and attitude (good or bad) after your conversation has concluded.  Remember that your children are one-half your ex, and negative comments can be received by your children as indirect attacks on them. Badmouthing your ex-spouse takes effort, effort that is probably better used in a positive manner.  Redirecting your negative emotions towards a positive focus will help you and your children.  I once heard a family therapist suggest, try treating the other parent with the same amount of courtesy that you show the clerk at 7-11.  With this simple attempt, you will find that you have fewer conflicts with your ex and a healthier relationship with your children.  Your children may not openly chastise you for your behavior toward their other parent, but it is still their other parent.  You may not care for your ex, but your children probably do....