Real Housewife's star Tamra Barney and her ex Simon have been fighting since their divorce a few years ago about the fate of their children. Tamra wants them on the show, Simon does not. Up until now, Simon has successfully kept the children off T.V., asserting it is a legal custody decision and he has veto power under California law because he and his ex have joint legal custody, and that the show would be harmful to the children. Last week, Tamra filed a motion to contest that, asserting a theory that this doesn't qualify as a legal decision that Simon would be able to veto, and therefore she is allowed to put the children on T.V. during her custodial time without his permission. On Friday, the judge refused to make a temporary order allowing the children to go on T.V. and ordered the evaluation.
Such independent evaluations are usually refered to as California Evidence Code 730 exams (or a "730," for short), and are performed by a psychologist agreed upon by the parties from a "730 panel" appointed by the courts. They are relied on often in California's family law system when parental alienation or other dysfunctional behaviors are going on. A 730 evaluator can make expert recommendations about custody, visitation, mental health of the parties, parental alienation, and a variety of other issues. An evaluator's opinion about what should happen to the children in a case can be crucial. However, 730 exams usually take several weeks to accomplish.
[From the Evidence Code: When it appears to the court, at any time before or during the trial of an action, that expert evidence is or may be required by the court or by any party to the action, the court on its own motion or on motion of any party may appoint one or more experts to investigate, to render a report as may be ordered by the court, and to testify as an expert at the trial of the action relative to the fact or matter as to which the expert evidence is or may be required.]
Kudos to the judge for recognizing the grave psychological nature of this issue and relying on experts to assist.