Social Study Evaluators:
Texas courts generally order a social study evaluation at the temporary orders hearing in cases where conservatorship or possession of or access to a child is being contested. If the parties are unable to agree on a social study evaluator, then the Court will appoint a social study evaluator. Once a social study evaluator has been appointed, do your research on the person appointed to complete your social study evaluation. The Texas Family Code contains specific minimum qualifications for social study evaluators in Texas. Most social study evaluators in Texas have a human services/mental health background. The qualifications of social study evaluators in Texas can include licensed professional social workers, licensed professional counselors, and psychologists. It is important to know who your audience is when getting ready to participate in your social study evaluation, so be sure to research the evaluator appointed in your case. You can search the state licensing board that governs the social study evaluator appointed in your case to familiarize yourself with their professional standards and ethics. For example, the Texas Administrative Code contains the professional standards for most mental health professionals. It could also be helpful to search the internet and/or review his or her résumé.
Next week I will outline the documents and information that you need to obtain in preparation of your initial interview with your social study evaluator. I will also provide a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” as it relates to reference letters and your initial social study interview.