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730 Evaluation: Custody Evaluator Qualifications

There are education and training requirements that a child custody evaluator must meet prior to performing a child custody evaluation. These requirements can be found in the California Family Code section 3110.5. All child custody evaluators must meet the qualifications, training, and continuing education requirements specified in the California Family Code sections 1815, 1816, and 3111, and 2005 California Rules of Court rules 5.225 and 5.230.

California Rule 5.225. Education, training, and experience standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators
As required by Family Code section 3110.5, this rule establishes education, experience, and training requirements for child custody evaluators who are appointed only under Family Code section 3111, Evidence Code section 730, or Code of Civil Procedure section 2032. Additional training requirements for these child custody evaluators are contained in rule 5.230.
California Rule 5.230. Domestic violence training standards for court-appointed child custody investigators and evaluators
Consistent with Family Code sections 3020 and 3111, the purposes of this rule are to require domestic violence training for all court-appointed persons who evaluate or investigate child custody matters and to ensure that this training reflects current research and consensus about best practices for conducting child custody evaluations by prescribing standards that training in domestic violence must meet. Effective January 1, 1998, no person may be a court-appointed investigator under Family Code section 3111(d) or Evidence Code section 730 unless the person has completed domestic violence training described here and in Family Code section 1816.
California Family Code 1815
(a) A person employed as a supervising counselor of conciliation or as an associate counselor of conciliation shall have all of the following minimum qualifications:
(1) A master's degree in psychology, social work, marriage, family and child counseling, or other behavioral science substantially related to marriage and family interpersonal relationships.
(2) At least two years of experience in counseling or psychotherapy, or both, preferably in a setting related to the areas of responsibility of the family conciliation court and with the ethnic population to be served.
(3) Knowledge of the court system of California and the procedures used in family law cases.
(4) Knowledge of other resources in the community to which clients can be referred for assistance.
(5) Knowledge of adult psychopathology and the psychology of families.
(6) Knowledge of child development, child abuse, clinical issues relating to children, the effects of divorce on children, the effects of domestic violence on children, and child custody research sufficient to enable a counselor to assess the mental health needs of children.
(b) The family conciliation court may substitute additional experience for a portion of the education, or additional education for a portion of the experience, required under subdivision (a).
(c) This section does not apply to any supervising counselor of conciliation who was in office on March 27, 1980.
California Family Code 1816
(a) Supervising and associate counselors and mediators described in Section 3164 and court-connected and private child custody evaluators described in Section 3110.5 shall participate in programs of continuing instruction in domestic violence, including child abuse, as may be arranged and provided to them. This training may utilize domestic violence training programs conducted by nonprofit community organizations with an expertise in domestic violence issues.
(b) Areas of instruction shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) The effects of domestic violence on children.
(2) The nature and extent of domestic violence.
(3) The social and family dynamics of domestic violence.
(4) Techniques for identifying and assisting families affected by domestic violence.
(5) Interviewing, documentation of, and appropriate recommendations for families affected by domestic violence.
(6) The legal rights of, and remedies available to, victims.
(7) Availability of community and legal domestic violence resources.
(c) The Judicial Council shall develop standards for the training programs. The Judicial Council shall solicit the assistance of community organizations concerned with domestic violence and child abuse and shall seek to develop training programs that will maximize coordination between conciliation courts and local agencies concerned with domestic violence.
California Family Code 3111
(a) In any contested proceeding involving child custody or visitation rights, the court may appoint a child custody evaluator to conduct a child custody evaluation in cases where the court determines it is in the best interests of the child. The child custody evaluation shall be conducted in accordance with the standards adopted by the Judicial Council pursuant to Section 3117, and all other standards adopted by the Judicial Council regarding child custody evaluations. If directed by the court, the court-appointed child custody evaluator shall file a written confidential report on his or her evaluation. At least 10 days before any hearing regarding custody of the child, the report shall be filed with the clerk of the court in which the custody hearing will be conducted and served on the parties or their attorneys, and any other counsel appointed for the child pursuant to Section 3150. The report may be considered by the court.
(b) The report shall not be made available other than as provided in subdivision (a).
(c) The report may be received in evidence on stipulation of all interested parties and is competent evidence as to all matters contained in the report.

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