Child custody cases usually present many challenging issues that have the potential to impact the entire family for years to come. Ideally, parents will agree to a parenting plan that satisfies the wishes of both parties. But many cases involve parents with vastly different outlooks on what is in the best interests of their children going forward after a divorce. When there is no agreement between the spouses, a judge in California may decide to appoint a child custody evaluator to conduct a custody evaluation and recommend a parenting plan. And while a parent is entitled to ask for an evaluation, the request may not necessarily be granted. It is also possible that parents will be expected to pay for an evaluation. Parties facing child custody disputes are encouraged to contact an experienced San Diego family law attorney who can help to navigate the process with competence and knowledge of the local laws and procedures.
According to the California court's website, a child custody evaluation involves an investigation and analysis by an expert of the health, safety, welfare, and best interests of children. In a recent court case, the parents were involved in a lengthy and bitter child custody proceeding concerning their two young children. Here, the court ordered the parties to retain the services of a child custody evaluator who would evaluate the circumstances and provide a custody recommendation to the court. Apparently, during the proceedings, the court granted the evaluator the authority to issue interim custody orders pending the court's ultimate review.
The mother brought this action against the custody evaluator alleging negligence, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Among other things, she claimed that the evaluator issued an interim order that restricted access to her children. The evaluator responded by asserting that the acts complained of were quasi-judicial in nature and therefore protected by the common law privilege. The mother argued that the evaluator had no jurisdiction to render an interim custody order and thus, the act was not entitled to immunity.