court ordered 730 Evaluation
co-parenting assessment and recommendation Daniel B.
Pickar, Ph.D., ABPP; Child & Family Clinical and Forensic Psychology child custody in domestic violence situations
Child Custody Evaluation

Daniel B. Pickar, Ph.D.
1212 College Ave., Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Tel: (707) 566-0296
Fax: (707) 843-5095

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations
		    in Family Law Proceedings

Child Custody Evaluation and Brief Focused Assessment

Child Custody Evaluation

A Child Custody Evaluation (also known as a 730 Evaluation) is a comprehensive forensic investigation ordered by the court, whereby the psychologist assists parents and the court in determining a parenting or child sharing plan which is in the children's best interests. These type of complex psychological evaluations are only conducted by highly trained psychologists who must maintain ongoing education required by the California Courts in the specialized area of child custody disputes. Dr. Pickar has completed over 350 of these evaluations over the last 20 years, and is regularly appointed by the Superior Courts in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties. These investigations are typically either stipulated to by both parents and then ordered by the court, or in some instances, they may be ordered by the Superior Court even in the absence of a stipulation.

Child Custody Evaluations typically address a full range of psychological, child custody, and co-parenting issues. Child Custody Evaluations are also frequently utilized by the court when there are questions about parental psychiatric illness, substance abuse, child alienation, domestic violence, child abuse, or special needs children whose parents have undergone a divorce.

A comprehensive Child Custody Evaluation includes the following:

  • Individual interviews and psychological testing with parents
  • Individual interviews and psychological testing with children
  • Home visits to each parent's home
  • Interviews with stepparents or significant others living in the home of either parent
  • Collateral interviews with professionals who have worked with family members, including mental health professionals, teachers, child care providers, physicians
  • Review of court records and pertinent documents provide by counsel
  • A detailed and comprehensive report outlining specific recommendation for a parenting plan

Dr. Pickar adheres to the AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) Guidelines for Parenting Plan Evaluations in Family Law Cases (2022) and the APA Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings (2022) published by the American Psychological Association.

Brief Focused Assessment

In some family court cases there are discrete issues, limited in scope, that do not require a comprehensive child custody evaluation to assist the court in decision-making. A Brief Focused Assessment addresses specific, narrowly defined referral questions, identified by a judicial officer in a court order. The Brief Focused Assessment can be an efficient and effective tool to assist judicial decision-making in cases where a full child custody evaluation is not needed. These evaluations can be completed in less time than a full child custody evaluation, so the information is available to the court more quickly, avoiding some of the delays in the resolution of issues than can exacerbate tension in families. They also generally cost about half the price of a full evaluation, depending upon the issues being examined.

In a Brief Focused Assessment, an evaluator conducts interviews with parents and children, as well as may observe parent-child interactions. The evaluator typically reviews relevant records and conducts telephone interviews with collateral contacts, such as therapists, teachers, or other professionals who have worked with the family. In some instances, psychological testing may be utilized.

For Dr. Pickar to conduct a Brief Focused Assessment there must be a well-defined referral question from the court, as well as a court order that specifically designates Dr. Pickar to conduct the assessment.

court ordered psychological
			testing of parents and child