733 Expert Witness
Challenging the 730 Evaluation
What is a 733 expert?
Deriving its’ name from California Evidence Code §733, a 733 expert is typically hired by a party seeking to contest the findings and recommendations of a 730 Child Custody Evaluation. Evidence Code §733 permits any party to produce other expert evidence on the same facts or matters testified to by the 730 expert. Under most circumstances, the 733 expert will not be conducting a second evaluation; he/she will be critiquing the 730 evaluator’s report and illustrating why the court should either (1) disregard the report and its’ recommendations, or (2) give less weight to the report and its’ recommendations. Just as there are processes and procedures for conducting a child custody evaluation, there are processes and procedures for critiquing another mental health professionals work; utilizing an evaluator with significant experience in the area of child custody evaluations will be necessary at this juncture if you intend to be successful.
In addition, the 733 expert, under most circumstances, will not even be providing the court with a second set of recommendations unless the 733 expert’s critique involves a second evaluation of equal, greater, or different scope to the one already conducted. While the manner in which 733 experts critique child custody evaluations may be different, most 733 experts will look to ensure that the following was done in in the initial 730 evaluation:
- The 730 evaluator’s role and the purpose of the evaluation has been defined;
- The 730 evaluator has used a data gathering model that is consistent with current literature and current professional practice;
- Collateral sources have been utilized and historical information has been obtained;
- Scientific reasoning and data interpretation have been used to establish connections between characteristics or conditions assessed and the pertinent functional ability;
- The information provided will assist the court in adjudicating a fact in the case or the ultimate issue.
- The limits of data interpretation have been articulated; and
- Empirical support has been provided for opinions expressed.