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What Is A Child Custody Evaluation?
A child custody evaluation is a prepared by a neutral mental health professional about you, the other parent and your children. The report summarizes each parent's ideas about what would be best for the children and includes information from teachers, doctors and other people who have had contact with your children. A recommendation is made in the report as to what custody and visitation plan would be best for your children. The goal of a child custody evaluation is to provide the Court and the parties with objective information and recommendations about a family to assist the Court in issuing orders in highly contested custody disputes. In formulating a recommendation, the evaluator analyzes the family dynamics as they affect the children, and searches for a solution that serves the best interests of the children. The information contained in an evaluation may be used by the Court to issue custody orders or by the parties to reach an agreement. Since the evaluation is written by someone who is neutral and is knowledgeable about how divorce affects children, a custody evaluation is a very important alternative dispute resolution tool.Two types of evaluations are available:
  • Full Child Custody Evaluations. A full evaluation generally involves multiple interviews with your family, extensive examination of collateral information and results in a written report.
    • Currently, Family Court Services will only conduct full Child Custody Evaluations ordered per Family Code Section 3118, when the Court determines that there is a serious allegation of child sexual abuse.
    • Cost: Unless the Court orders the cost of the evaluation waived or deferred, a deposit of approximately $1200 is required before the evaluation begins. The actual cost of the evaluation is computed based on an hourly charge for services and is detailed in the invoice that accompanies the written report when the evaluation is completed.
  • Parenting Plan Assessments (formerly known as Solution Focused Evaluations).
    • One-Day, Parenting Plan Assessments (PPA). Ordered when the Court determines that there are one or two narrowly defined issues about which the Court requires additional information and clinical judgment. Interviews and testimony are conducted on the same day.
    • Two-Day, Parenting Plan Assessments (PPA). Ordered when the Court determines that there are more than two narrowly defined issues about which the Court requires additional information and clinical judgment. Occurs on two consecutive days, with interviews of the family on the first day and testimony on the following day.
    • Cost: Unless the Court orders of the cost of the Parenting Plan Assessment waived or deferred, the fee for the One-Day PPA is $975.00 and the cost for the Two-Day PPA is $1950.00. The fee must be paid to the Family Court Services Office, 111 N. Hill St., Room 241, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Payment must be made within 21 calendar days after the order is entered or by the date of the assessment, whichever is first. Failure to do so will result in the cancellation of the assessment. If your case settles after payment is made, you must notify the Family Court Services Office prior to the date of the assessment in order to receive a full refund. Otherwise, a $50 administrative fee will be assessed.
Copyright 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles