[A] Child Custody Social Study, home study, or custody evaluation, is sometimes a court ordered document from which a judge may seek additional information on who should be the primary custodial parent. May times, especially in my home state of Texas, judges will ask social workers or custody evaluators to perform a social study to learn home details that they cannot otherwise determined through courtroom proceedings. Even if not court ordered, attorneys may also request a social study to be done on both parents to help decide the primary residence of your kids.
The social study itself is usually a written report investigating the parents involved in a custody suit. The report regularly includes the parents living conditions, employment, educational backgrounds, home settings, parenting styles and availability of other family members who regularly interact with the kids. These studies are conducted by case workers, social workers, or other 3rd party child custody evaluators, who are experienced and experts in with working with families and children.
This process should not be taken lightly. Many times recommendations from a social study are followed precisely by a judge when awarding custody. (It played a significant role in winning my custody suit.)
The custody evaluation primarily consists of an extensive written questionnaires about your background, your children, and others living in your home. It also includes one or more visits to your house to study your environment and your regular interactions with your children. During the first phase, you and your Ex will be asked separately to give references of people who know you and your kids. These individuals should be professionals including teachers, doctors, psychologists, therapists, caregivers and others who know you and your children well. Additional family members may also be contacted to provide additional information and to verify facts. So don’t lie on your questionnaires.
Next the custody evaluator will schedule at least one separate visits to you and your Ex’s home during a time that you have possession of your kids. Their purpose is to watch your interaction with your children, study your living arrangements, your availability, and decide the most beneficial home environment for the kids. For example, when my caseworker arrived at the door with a clipboard, he first asked to see the kid’s bathroom, my medicine cabinet, and my daughter’s room. I’ll dive deeper into the specific elements they are looking for and share real details of my specific home study in future posts.
Finally, all of this information, along with the home visit evaluation will be placed in a report that will be submitted to the judge in your case. This information, along with other information presented to the judge during the custody hearing, will be the basis for the court’s primary custody decision.
Tell me about your social study? Did your court or your attorney order a social study?
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