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730 Evaluation: Child Custody Evaluation Guidelines

There are child custody evaluation guidelines and standards that a child custody evaluator must adhere to when conducting a child custody evaluation. In California, these standards can be found in the 2005 California Rules of Court, Rule 5.220 for court-ordered child custody evaluations, previously rule 1257.3.

Courts order child custody evaluations, investigations, and assessments to assist them in determining the health, safety, welfare, and best interest of children with regard to disputed custody and visitation issues. This rule governs both court-connected and private child custody evaluators appointed under Family Code section 3111, Evidence Code section 730, or Code of Civil Procedure section 2032.
Rule 5.220 amended effective January 1, 2004; adopted as rule 1257.3 effective January 1, 1999; previously amended effective July 1, 1999, and July 1, 2003; amended and renumbered effective January 1, 2003.
The guidelines in rule 5.220 describe in detail the required scope of the child custody evaluation, including responsibility for evaluation services, what kinds of data are to be collected and in what manner, how a written or oral presentation is to be fashioned, ethical considerations for the evaluator, and fee arrangements. The rule also calls for local courts to provide for acceptance of and response to complaints about an evaluator’s performance.
In terms of ethical guidelines, each child custody evaluator should be held to the professional ethics or code of conduct for any areas in which they are a member as well as the California Business and Professions Code.
For example, psychologists that are members of the American Psychological Association are likely held to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and the Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings. There are also guidelines from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts called the AFCC Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations.
Rules of conduct for California-licensed MFT's, LCSW's, psychologists, and psychiatrists
AAMFT Code of Ethics
Members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics
California-licensed LCSW's through BBS-appointed experts. Members of the National Association of Social Workers.
National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, NE, Suite 700
Washington DC 20002
Telephone: 202-408-8600
APA Code of Ethics
California-licensed psychologists under section 2936 of the Business and Professions Code. Members of the American Psychological Association.
APA Ethics Office
750 First St, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone: 202-336-5930
American Psychoanalytic Association Code of Ethics
Members of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Members and candidates of local APsaA societies and institutes.
Board of Behavioral Sciences Business and Professions Codes of California
Applies to California BBS licensees and contains BBS regulations and selected California statutes.
Laws and Reguations Relating to the Practice of Psychology
State of California Department of Consumer Affairs laws and regulations relating to the practice of psychology.
Summary of California Laws Relating to the Practice of Psychology
State of California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Psychology laws relating to the practice of psychology.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Code of Ethics
American Psychiatric Association Code of Ethics
American Psychiatric Association
1400 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone 202-682-6000

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