What you need to know about 730 Evaluation in California

California Evidence Code 730 is commonly referred to as 730 evaluation in family law court. This law states that in court, at any time, the judge can order that an expert be assigned to investigate the issue that the judge must decide on. For example, in a child custody matter, one parent may claim that the other parent is unfit to have custody of the child. The court needs evidence to determine whether the claim is true. Thus, the court, on its own, or after request by a party, can appoint an expert to investigate and analyze. Remember, 730 evaluations are not just for custody cases. It applies to divorce and  financial issues as well. For instance, we have 730 child custody evaluations, 730 financial evaluations and more.  

730 Child Custody Evaluation

Court may order a 730 child custody evaluation  to determine who should have physical and legal custody of the child.  For example, if one parent is claiming the other parent is abusive, then the court may order an evaluation by a licensed social worker, psychologist or Marriage and Family Therapist. The role of the expert will be to collect data, determine facts, and analyze. Once the investigation is complete, the expert prepares a report for the court. The report may have a recommendation. The report may also be used as  evidence to help the court decide. Thus, 730 evaluations can become very important.

730 Financial Evaluation

The court usually orders a forensic accountant or other experts when there is a dispute regarding ownership, value, or misappropriation of property. These types of analysis are done by an expert. A report will be drafted by the expert so the lawyers and the court can determine the division of money or assets between the spouses. As with the custody evaluation the court will consider financial evaluation report as evidence in court. Thus, it is important to take it seriously.

730 Evaluation Cost

730 evaluations can become costly. Depending on the extend and complexity of the dispute it can cost thousands of dollars. Usually, the court will ask each spouse to file with the court an Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150). Based on that form and based on the finances and income of each party the court may either divide the cost or have one party pay it in entirety. Sometimes the court may require one party to pay and require the other party to pay his or her portion later. This is called allocation. Remember, the court can require the investigation despite the parties both disagreeing to the investigation. Additionally, the court can require one or both parties pay the cost. In short, this could cost the parties a significant amount of money depending on the complexity of the matter.

Will 730 Evaluation Be Fair

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Generally, evaluators are neutral experts who are unbiased and uninterested third parties. In fact, the law requires the evaluators to be unbiased and neutral. Usually, one party cannot speak to or communicate with the evaluator in the absence or without the permission of all parties or the judge. Thus, the evaluation should be fair. Having legal representation can help make sure that the evaluator does not have a previous personal relationship or other conflict of interest with the other party. So, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer to make sure everything is done properly.

Conclusion

730 evaluation is basically a report that is prepared by an expert that the court appoints. The report will be used as evidence to help the court make a proper decision in the family law case before it. Thus, it is important to take it very seriously.