Yesterday I had to be in the downtown Los Angeles court, but fortunately was called by a colleague on my way who let me know that Ms. Spears' lawyers were coming in ex parte to try to get in her visitation in a "therapeutic setting." Lotsa luck, there, Sorrell - I had heard that she and K-Fed were ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation - what we call a "730" using a reference to the Evidence Code under which these evaluations are admitted into evidence - but she is failing to comply.
I took a different route into the courtroom and avoided any media, although I could tell security was a little less lackadaisical. I understand Britney made it past security, actually coming into the building, but left because she was too stressed. Commissioner Gordon - who is well-thought of by us lawyer types - denied her request.
In case someone wants to know . . . a 730 evaluation is composed of:
1. Psychological testing for the parents and, if old enough, the children as well. Obviously, the children are not given the same testing as the parents. At the very least, Mom and Pop can expect to sit down and complete the MMPI-2, which I had a judge tell me was the same test used by eHarmony.com. And if there is a stepparent or someone functioning in that capacity, they can expect to be tested as well.
2. Clinical observations. The psychologist wants to see Mom and Dad together. Mom with kids. Dad with kids. Kids alone. New stepparent with kids, etc., etc. Although rare, sometimes a home visit is done and the psychologist may observe regular activities, such as the evening meal.
3. Review of corroborating evidence. The psychologist will review the pleadings, correspondence between the parents, the children's school records, medical reports, etc. The psychologist will also interview people like grandparents, teachers, doctors, Little League coaches, etc.
When all is said and done, the good doctor then makes recommendations for custody and prepares a detailed report with his findings and his analysis to support his recommendations. I emphasize recommendations because only the Court can make actual orders - the Court does have the discretion to deviate from the psychologist's recommendations but that does not happen too often. The 730 evaluator is the Court's own expert witness - not Mom's or Dad's.
Mom or Dad, if they are unhappy with the outcome, can challenge the 730 by (a) cross-examining the 730 at trial to try to find weaknesses in his/her analysis (and yes, that can be done - that is why I always say to a client, "Don't start throwing a party over the recommendations if the findings and analysis are crap), and/or (b) bringing a motion to have a 733 appointed. A 733 (again, shorthand referring to the Evidence Code) is that party's expert witness who the Court allows to see the 730's report (which is strictly confidential) and perhaps the raw test scores, and who now will present his/her own opinions as to custody - in short, you have a battle of the experts.
Costly? Sure can be!
And by the way . . . in my own anecdotal observations, the party screaming the loudest for it is often the one who does poorly!