Elkins v Superior Court (2007) said that family courts had to follow the same rules of evidence as any regular civil case. In re Seagondollar (2006) said that a child custody evaluator appointment must state purpose and scope, as in Rule 5.220. In re Marriage of Matthews (1980) said that a family court judge cannot delegate a custody or visitation decision to an evaluator.
See Forms FM-1056 and FM-1057 on the Santa Clara forms, or Form SUPCV-1054 on the Santa Cruz forms. These forms pretend to comply with the law by using some generic language and a few checkboxes. The rule says that a child custody evaluation must have a written order from the court specifying its purpose and scope, but these forms attempt to satisfy that by just having a checkbox for "a full custody or visitation evaluation".
More outrageously, the forms have these checkboxes:
A. ASSESSMENT/EVALUATION RECOMMENDATIONS:There is no legitimate reason for a psychologist to ever give a recommendation on legal custody. He might have an opinion on the personality characteristics or mental disorders of the parties, but none of these things would ever be decisive on legal custody. Legal custody is only for the court to decide, and is based on facts that cannot possibly be available to the psychologist.
The recommendations resulting from the assessment/evaluation shall address the issues checked below:
[ ] Legal Custody, may include division of authority for decision making
[ ] Physical Custody
[ ] Visitation
[ ] Whether visitation shall be supervised, and if so, by what type of program and for how long
[ ] Exchange provisions designed to protect the child from exposure to extreme conflict or domestic violence, and to
protect the safety of all the parties
[ ] Move-away issues
[ ] Whether either party shall be required to attend counseling, rehabilitation, parenting, or co-parenting programs,
substance abuse counseling domestic violence programs, and, if so, which programs and for how long.
[ ] Whether the child shall participate in counseling programs and, If so, the method for selecting the counselor
[ ] Other:
[ ] Other recommendations related to any of the above issues necessary for clarification or implementation of the recommended order, or otherwise required to address the health, safety, welfare, and best interests of the child.
The psychologist should also never be giving a recommendation on whether anyone "shall be required to attend counseling". He might have an opinion about whether some particular type of counseling might be beneficial to someone, but he does not have the training or the authority to require anyone to do anything. I believe that it should be unethical for any psychologist to accept any such assignment.