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Case Name: Case Number:
1. is appointed the court's expert, pursuant to Evidence Code
Section 730 and California Rule of Court 5.220 for the purpose of conducting a
custody evaluation in this proceeding. The address and telephone number of the
evaluator is:
2. The evaluator will investigate and advise the Court as to the health, safety, welfare
and best interests of the parties' child(ren) in connection with the disputed custody
and visitation issues in this matter.
This will be a full evaluation, investigation and assessment, intended to provide
the Court with a comprehensive examination of the health, safety, welfare and
best interests of the child(ren). The major issues to be addressed in the
evaluation are:
This will be a Brief Focused Assessment (BFA), investigation and assessment.
See Attachment A for specific issues to be addressed by BFA.
3. The evaluator will make recommendations based on what he or she perceives to be
in the best interests of the child(ren); what is necessary to promote the
development, emotional adjustment and psychological well being of the child(ren).
4. The evaluator has quasi-judicial immunity.
5. Except as limited by the court’s order for a Brief Focused Assessment, the evaluator
will use data and information that will allow the evaluator to observe and consider
each party in comparable ways and to substantiate (from multiple sources when
possible) interpretations and conclusions regarding:
a. each child’s developmental needs;
b. the quality of attachment to each parent and that parent’s social environment;
c. the child’s reactions to the separation, divorce or parental conflict.
6. This process may include, but is not limited to:
a. reviewing pertinent documents related to custody, including local police records;
b. observing parent-child interaction unless contraindicated to protect the best
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Case Name: Case Number:
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interest of the child;
c. interviewing parents together, individually or both together and individually unless
it is contraindicated, to assess each parent’s:
(i) capacity for setting age-appropriate limits and for understanding and
responding to the child’s needs;
(ii) history of involvement in caring for the child;
(iii) methods for working toward resolution of the child custody conflict;
(iv) history of child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, and
psychiatric illness; and
(v) psychological and social functioning
d. conducting age-appropriate interviews;
e. observing the child(ren) with each parent, stepparent, siblings, and step and half
siblings together, separately or in whatever way the evaluator thinks best to
accomplish the goal of the evaluation;
f. collecting relevant corroborating information or documents as permitted by law;
g. consulting with other experts for the purposes of obtaining feedback, case review
or to obtain access to specific expertise. Any consultant used by the evaluator is
bound to maintain confidentiality regarding the information learned;
h. providing the child(ren) with an age appropriate explanation of the evaluation
process, and advising them that statements made by them to the evaluator may
not be confidential: that it is possible that their parents may be informed of their
7. The court orders the parties to follow all requests made of them by the evaluator so
that the evaluator can conduct the evaluation, as required by law. Each party is
required to complete any tasks required of him or her by the evaluator in a timely
manner, as the evaluator may indicate. Specifically, each party shall:
a. contact the evaluator named above within ten (10) court days of this order being
filed with the court, to set an initial appointment time, to pay the evaluator’s fees,
and to sign any papers required of the evaluator to begin the custody evaluation
process. Both parties will make the scheduling of appointments with the
evaluator a priority and will set appointments with the evaluator on a time
schedule requested by the evaluator.
b. participate in such testing and interviews as directed by the evaluator;
c. participate in psychological testing with whomever the evaluator recommends;
d. participate in an assessment by an independent specialist such as a substance
abuse specialist, a neuropsychologist or other specialist as recommended by the
e. allow the evaluator the ability to interview members of the immediate and/or
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extended family of both parents at the evaluator’s sole discretion;
f. allow the evaluator the ability to interview any and all other persons whom the
evaluator deems to have information relevant to the scope of the evaluation;
g. allow the evaluator the ability to interview any service providers who have
worked, or had a relationship with, either of the parents or the child;
h. determine the protocol of all interviews and sessions to be conducted by the
i. sign any and all releases for records and information requested by the evaluator
so that the evaluator has access to all information relevant to the scope of the
evaluation, such as documents and information from outside sources, including,
but not limited to: psychiatrists, mediators, psychologists, social workers,
teachers and school personnel, physicians, police departments, hospitals and
child protection workers. This includes past records as well as reports from
professionals who may be involved with any of the parties at the time of litigation,
and includes records and information regarding both parties, as well as their
8. The parties are ordered to provide the evaluator copies of all pleadings, orders and
correspondence that relate to the issues being evaluated, including any document
requested by the evaluator. The parties may submit a list of people that they believe
should be interviewed by the evaluator. The evaluator may, or may not, interview
any of the people suggested by the parties, at his or her sole discretion. Any
communications or documents provided to the evaluator must also be provided
simultaneously to the opposing party.
9. The court orders the parties to pay the evaluator’s fees and costs as follows, unless
there is a subsequent explicit order to the contrary:
will pay % of the evaluator's fees and
expenses, including the advance deposit and will
y % of the evaluator's fees and expenses, including the advance
deposit. The deposit will be paid by the parties prior to the onset of the
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The court shall pay the fees and costs associated with this custody evaluation
in an amount not to exceed $
The parties are ordered to
reimburse the court, as follows:
will pay $ on the 1
day of each month
until a total of $ has been paid.
will pay $ on the 1
day of each month
until a total of $ has been paid.
Payments must be made payable to the San Francisco Superior Court and
mailed to 400 McAllister Street, Suite 402, San Francisco, CA 94102 ATTN:
Custody evaluation fees. The check or money order must have the case name
and number and the words “custody evaluation fees” written on the check or
money order.
10. Each parent must sign any fee agreement required by the evaluator.
11. The San Francisco Superior Court reserves jurisdiction to allocate the costs of
testimony and post-evaluation services provided by the evaluator.
12. Any party requiring the evaluator to testify at a deposition, trial or hearing must first
pay the evaluator an additional retainer to cover his or her time in preparing for, and
appearing at, the deposition and / or the court hearing.
13. The opinions formed by the evaluator during the evaluation are not confidential. If
the evaluator determines that sharing information discovered during the evaluation
process is in the best interests of the child(ren), the evaluator may share the
information with the court, either or both attorneys, either or both parents, any
therapists involved with the parties and/or child(ren), or any other party at the sole
discretion of the evaluator, as may be appropriate to protect the best interests of the
14. The evaluator will take such steps as are necessary to protect the child(ren)'s
therapeutic privilege, including to decline to provide any party or counsel with
information disclosed by the child(ren) or the child(ren)'s therapist, which would
otherwise be privileged. The evaluator will advise the court whether a minor child's
therapeutic privilege should be waived by the court for purposes of obtaining the
testimony of any mental health professional treating a minor child of the parties.
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In the event that any privileged information or testimony is required by the court,
such information or testimony shall be provided in camera outside the presence of
the parties. Counsel for the parties are prohibited from disclosing the details of such
information or testimony. The evaluator will not release any raw test data and notes
from psychological testing except to a qualified psychologist named by the party
requesting the information.
15. The evaluator will prepare a confidential written report in compliance with California
Rule of Court 5.220. The report must:
a. Summarize the data gathering procedures, information sources, and time spent,
and present all relevant information, including information that does not support
the conclusions reached;
b. Describe any limitations in the evaluation that result from unobtainable
information, failure of a party to cooperate, or the circumstances of particular
c. Only make a custody or visitation recommendation for a party who has been
evaluated. This requirement does not preclude the evaluator from making an
interim recommendation that is in the best interests of the child;
d. Provide clear, detailed recommendations that are consistent with the health,
safety, welfare, and best interest of the child if making any recommendation to
the court regarding a parenting plan;
e. The recommendation portion of the evaluation will be set forth in a separate
attachment or section of the report.
f. The evaluator may also include a recommendation to the court for the
appointment of counsel for the child(ren).
16. In those cases where a significant amount of time has passed between the
completion of the evaluator’s report and the trial date, the evaluator may conduct a
brief re-evaluation. A re-evaluation allows the evaluator to present the parties and
the court with any developments that may have taken place since the original report
by conducting appropriate interviews and reviewing documents. The re-evaluation
ensures that everyone has the most recent information related to the issues. A brief
evaluation may take place when at least one parent agrees to participate, or as the
court may order. The parties must pre-pay the costs estimated by the evaluator for
any re-evaluation
17. The court will assume that the original evaluator should be appointed to provide the
court with any needed follow-up evaluations if the evaluator is available and willing to
perform such updates. If a party believes that the evaluator is unqualified to conduct
the re-evaluation for any reason, including being biased, that issue should be raised
and determined either during the hearing following the initial evaluation, or, if there
was no hearing after the original evaluation, through a noticed motion to resolve the
Case Name: Case Number:
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18. Absent a stipulation or a specific authorization of the court to the contrary, attorneys
may not communicate directly with the evaluator on an ex parte basis except to
schedule an appointment or as is allowed pursuant to Family Code Section 216.
19. If one attorney refuses an invitation to participate in a joint conference, that
attorney’s refusal will be an implied waiver of the ex parte communication prohibition
and the evaluator may meet with the other attorney(s).
20. By signing their names immediately below this paragraph, the parties agree that the
evaluator may, at his or her sole discretion, communicate with any attorney on an ex
parte basis. By signing below, each party understands that he or she is waiving
rights under Family Code Section 216.
,Moving Party , Responding Party
Attorney for Moving Party Attorney for Responding Party
Attorney for Minor(s)
21. The evaluator may meet with either or both of the parties, or with all attorneys to
discuss the results of the evaluation.
22. No person who has access to, or receives a copy of, the evaluation or any part of
that report, may distribute it without prior court order. Nothing in the report can be
disclosed to any other person without prior court approval. Use of the report is
limited to the pending litigation. The report shall not be filed with the court as an
independent document or as an attachment to any other document filed with the
court. In no event shall any of the information contained in the report, or access to
the report, be given to any child who is the subject of the report.
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23. The attorneys and parties are ordered to meet and confer within fifteen (15) court
days of having received, or had the opportunity to read, the evaluation.
24. If, after having met and conferred, the parties are unable to resolve all of the
outstanding issues, the coordinating mediator will, in conjunction with the evaluator
and the court, schedule either a mediation, settlement conference, status
conference and/or a trial. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the parties will
attend any post evaluation procedure scheduled by the court or the coordinating
mediator. The attorneys, parties, coordinating mediator and the evaluator may each
be included in these procedures, as the court and/or the coordinating mediator may
25. Fees for the evaluator’s participation in any post evaluation processes must be paid
by the parties prior to the evaluator’s scheduled appearance as set forth in this
Custody Order and/or the evaluator’s fee agreement.
26. The evaluator serves under the court’s appointment and, if required to testify by
either party, will testify as the court’s witness with the understanding that the
evaluator will make recommendations that address the best interests of the
27. Court appointed evaluators may not be deposed without a prior court order.
28. The parties are ordered not to discuss their respective positions on child custody
issues, or the contents of the evaluator's written report, with the minor child(ren).
29. Each party is ordered to immediately carry out the terms of this order. To ensure
timely compliance, either party may make an ex parte application to the court to
compel compliance with the terms of this Order. The Court has the authority to
impose monetary sanctions on any party who fails to follow any part of this court
30. In the event that enforcement proceedings become necessary to enforce any
provision of this order, the non-prevailing party shall pay attorney's fees and costs
as may be incurred.
31. The San Francisco Superior Court reserves jurisdiction regarding any dispute
regarding fees or any other provision of this order. Jurisdiction is also reserved to
San Francisco Superior Court to determine the allocation and characterization of
any funds advanced/paid by either parent and the merits of any dispute over such
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32. This matter shall be set for a review hearing on at in
Dept. to ensure that each party is complying with the terms of this Order and
a status review hearing on at in Dept.
We stipulate to the appointment of a custody evaluator.
Moving Party
Attorney for Moving Party
Responding Party
Attorney for Responding Party
Attorney for Minor(s)
Case Name: Case Number:
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Acceptance of Appointment
I accept this appointment under the terms set forth above. I hereby certify, under
penalty of perjury, that I am familiar with the requirements of California Rules of Court
5.220 and 5.225 and Family Code Section 3110.5 and that I meet the education,
experience and training requirements required by them. I further certify that I have a
current license in good standing as required by the Rules of Court and family law statute
referenced above.
, Evaluator
Based on the foregoing and good cause appearing
Brief Focused Assessment Attachment A is incorporated into this order by reference.
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Minor's counsel has been appointed in this matter pursuant to Family Code
Section 3150. Pursuant to Family Code Section 3151, minor's counsel has been
charged with representing the child(ren)'s best interest. In order for the child custody
evaluator to formulate his or her recommendations as to what is in the child(ren)'s best
interest, he or she requires access to any facts and information gathered by minor's
counsel that may bear on the best interest of the child(ren). The court finds that it is in
the child(ren)’s best interest that the evaluator be permitted to have ex parte
communication with minor's counsel.
Though not required by Family Code Section 216, the parties, by signing below,
intend to indicate their agreement to allowing ex parte communication between the
evaluator and minor’s counsel at any time during, and subsequent to, the evaluation.
Moving Party
Attorney for Moving Party
Responding Party
Attorney for Responding Party
Case Name: Case Number:
Attachment A to 730 Custody Evaluation Order:
Brief Focused Assessment
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Referral Form for Brief Focused Assessment (BFA)
Part 1: Issues to be investigated and assessed
(Check ONLY ONE issue below to be addressed and identify the parent(s) and/or child(ren) being assessed
regarding that issue.)
Drug and/or alcohol abuse assessment of
School assignment
Modification to parenting plan, e.g. change in time share
Modification to parenting plan to accommodate adolescent needs
Psychological testing of
Assessment of attachment or bonding of
Evaluation of Special Needs Child
Health status and needs of the child being met
Education status and needs of the child being met
Limitations on joint legal custody
Physical health of
Other: Must be reviewed and approved by the Court
The following issues are NOT appropriate for a Brief Focused Assessment:
Cases involving sexual abuse, physical abuse of a child, reunification of parent and child, high conflict
couples, parent relocation (Move Aways), and alienation allegations. BFAs are generally inappropriate
when there are allegations of domestic violence or when the involved children were once court
dependents through the juvenile dependency system.
Case Name: Case Number:
Attachment A to 730 Custody Evaluation Order:
Brief Focused Assessment
Page 2 of 2
Part 2: The elements of this Brief Focused Assessment may include, but are not
limited to, the following:
Individual and/or conjoint parent interviews
Individual child interviews, where developmentally appropriate
Parent-child observations
Telephone interviews with relevant neutral collateral parties (e.g. pediatricians,
teachers, therapists, religious practitioners, etc.)
Review of orders and relevant records
Other investigation, as may be determined by the appointed evaluator.
Part 3: Evaluator’s obligations pursuant to this Brief Assessment Order:
The evaluator’s obligations to carry out specific investigations and other duties,
otherwise required, per numbers 5 and 6 of this 730 Order, are modified pursuant to this
Court’s order for a Brief Focused Assessment, as indicated in Part 2 above.
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