What to Expect from an EC 730 Evaluation

Initial Payment: When you first contact Pathways Family Court Services, the office staff will conduct a telephone intake interview with each parent that usually takes about thirty minutes. After the evaluation fee is paid in full, a testing date will be scheduled and  each parent will be mailed an initial packet that contains several questionnaires for them and their significant other (if the SO lives in the home) to complete. There is also a variety of informed consent forms for each person to read and sign. Each packet comes with a self-addressed envelope with a deadline to return to the appropriate office in Northern or Southern California. The evaluation process cannot continue until this packet is completed. 


Psychological Testing: Parents will be required to complete several psychological tests at the beginning of the evaluation and prior to their initial interview with the evaluator. The testing process takes approximately four to six hours. Significant others will also be asked to complete one or more psychological test instruments. Children are not usually required to complete psychological testing, although situations do occasionally arise in which it becomes necessary.


Relationship History Interview: This initial conjoint interview includes both litigants, which enables the evaluator to obtain a comprehensive overview of the relationship and the type and quality of the interaction between the parents. This interview may be conducted separately when there is a restraining order in force that specifies no contact. However, please note that the evaluator can by law supersede the order for the purposes of this interview.


Individual History Interviews: In this interview with each parent separately, the evaluator will explore a number of issues including the parent's personal history, their relationship with their child(ren), and the current legal aspects of their case. Children are also interviewed individually, depending on their age and verbal ability. Significant others are individually interviewed as well.


Family Interaction Observation Interviews: During this interview, each parent, their significant other, and their child(ren) are directed to interact with one another by playing with toys or games or discussing an assigned task while the evaluator quietly observes.


Home Visits: Occasionally, the Court will order the child custody investigator to visit each parent's home in order to evaluate the physical environment and surrounding neighborhood. This is not standard procedure for most courts, but when ordered, the PFCS evaluators will generally combine the Family Interaction Observation Interview (described above) and the Home Visit into one event in each parents' home. If a home visit is not ordered by the Court, the evaluator may still choose to conduct one at his or her own discretion.


Exit Interviews: Each parent is seen individually in this final interview and given the opportunity to reiterate important points, respond to issues and allegations that have been raised about them by the other party, and discuss any concerns the evaluator may have. Children are typically seen together with their siblings for their exit interview so that the evaluator can observe and assess the dynamics of the sibling subsystem. The exit interview is considered to be the end of Discovery (no further information or documents may be submitted after this interview) unless the evaluator makes specific exceptions for particular documents or data. Further, if the evaluator should extend Discovery for one parent, it will be for a specific piece of information and a specific period of time and does not automatically imply that the other parent will also be given an extension of Discovery.


Additional Interviews and Assessments: Additional interviews may become necessary due to the nature of the case and may be scheduled by the evaluator at any time. Typical examples of cases requiring additional interviews are those involving allegations of domestic violence and/or child abuse. There are also situations where an outside risk assessment may become necessary (i.e. sexual addiction assessment, substance abuse assessment). These outside assessments are conducted by experts other than the evaluator and are done at the litigants additional expense.