top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureAndew McKeown

Child Custody Investigations: Assessing Family Dynamics in Child Custody and Visitation Disputes

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

The issues of child custody and visitation are often highly contested in family court. Parents who are not able to agree on a parenting plan often utilize the family court system to decide. The family court, taking into account the child’s best interests, makes child custody and visitation orders that are in line with California’s public policy of ensuring that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after separation.


When there is a dispute about which parent should have physical custody of the children the

court may order a Child Custody Investigation (CCI).


What is a Child Custody Investigation (CCI)?

When there are allegations made by one parent against the other of drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse, child neglect, or other issues that raise concern regarding the health, safety, or welfare of the children, California Family Code § 3111 allows the court to order a CCI, which is an investigation that is designed to assess the family dynamic in an impartial manner.


Who Completes a CCI?

A CCI is completed by a child custody evaluator. An evaluator is appointed by and is an

employee of the court. California Family Code § 3110.5(b)(1)(A) states that the court-connected

evaluators must have education, experience, training, and knowledge pertaining to “the

psychological and developmental needs of children and parent-child relationships.”


These evaluators must be able to make recommendations that are in the child’s best interest by assessing the family dynamic, the child’s development, allegations of child abuse and neglect, and the effects that domestic violence and divorce or separation have on families. In addition to this training and experience, evaluators are required to be licensed as a psychologist, a marriage and family therapist, a clinical social worker, a professional clinical counselor, or a physician, or be certified by the court as meeting all qualifications. California Family Code § 3110.5(c)(1)-(6).


What Happens During a CCI?

During a CCI, the court-appointed evaluator typically interviews with each parent. They may

also interview the child(ren). Evaluators conduct additional interviews with anyone that is or has been involved with the family such as school personnel, daycare personnel, social workers, therapists, law enforcement officials, and other people who have directly observed incidents involving the child(ren). The evaluator also reviews all evidence that is pertinent to the investigation. This evidence can include, but is not limited to, reports made by child protection agencies, police reports, background reports, and school records.


The purpose of the interviews and reviewing evidence is to look into the strengths and

weaknesses of both parents, their parenting skills, the child’s development, and the overall family dynamic all while focusing on the best interests of the child(ren).


Because every case is entirely unique, it is hard to determine how long a CCI will take. The

timeframe for completion of a CCI can take anywhere from several weeks up to several months.


What is The Final Result?

After conducting interviews and reviewing evidence, the evaluator creates a report of findings

that gets filed with the court. The report describes a family's current situation and future needs.


Based on these findings, current situation, and future needs, the evaluator makes

recommendations to the court that are in the child’s best interest. The goal of this report is to

provide the court with a clearer focus of the child custody and visitation dispute.


A judge may certainly take the evaluator’s report and recommendations into consideration when making a determination on a child custody and visitation matter, but it is not bound by these recommendations. This means that a judge does not have to follow the evaluators

recommendations when making a decision.


How We Can Help

At Harris & McKeown Law Firm, we understand the importance of the parent-child relationship. Child custody investigations and child custody and visitation disputes are very sensitive matters that should be handled with care and skill. Our team of Orange County attorneys can provide you with the diligent legal counsel you deserve.


Harris & McKeown Law Firm has been assisting clients throughout Orange County and the surrounding Southern California area with their divorce and family law matters for over 10 years.


To discuss your options in a confidential consultation with a Southern California family law

attorney, schedule an appointment online or by calling (949) 297-6529.



**DISCLAIMER**

THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND THIS GUIDE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS

LEGAL ADVICE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE READER AND ITS AUTHOR. IF YOU HAVE LEGAL

QUESTIONS, CONSULT WITH A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.

17 views0 comments

Kommentare


bottom of page