What Is a Child Custody Investigation?

What Is a Child Custody Investigation
A child custody investigation is designed to help the family court determine the custody arrangement that is in the “best interest of the child.” In acrimonious divorce or legal separation proceedings, the parties may be vying for custody of their children. It can be difficult for a judge, sitting in a courtroom, to balance the evidence and determine what is best for the children. Child custody investigations can help identify and frame the issues the judge needs to resolve.

Child custody investigations are required by law any time there is a “serious” allegation of child abuse. This includes situations in which any of the following people allege child abuse:

  • The child, made to a law enforcement officer;
  • A child welfare services agency investigator; or
  • Any person who is required by law to report suspected child abuse.

A child custody investigation may also be ordered any time an allegation of serious child abuse “is supported by substantial independent corroboration.” This means that an evaluation may be ordered any time an allegation of serious child abuse is backed up by substantial independent evidence that the abuse occurred.

A child custody evaluation may also be ordered whenever a judge needs information that bears on what may be in the best interest of the children, such as alleged parental substance abuse, extreme parenting practices, or major mental health issues. Sometimes, one party to a divorce or legal separation may make allegations against the other of these types of conduct. Other times, the judge may become concerned based on other evidence or testimony presented to him or her.

Child custody investigations generally conclude with a report from the investigator to the court. The law sets forth minimum requirements for investigations; however, family court judges have great discretion to order additional evaluation “when necessary to determine the safety needs of the child.”

To read more about what happens during a child custody investigation, please see our earlier blog here.

Child custody evaluations are often necessary to protect California children. In hotly contested child support matters, you need an attorney to fight for you and your child. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.