Status: Passed on June 20 2015 – Effective on 9/1/15
HB 1449 would make several changes to Family Code
The bill would require specific details to be included in a court order for a child custody evaluation, such as the name of each person who would conduct the evaluation, the purpose of the evaluation, and the specific issues or questions to be addressed in the evaluation.
Under the bill, child custody evaluators would be required to disclose potential bias or conflicts of interest in an increased number of scenarios. For example, disclosure would be required for any information where a reasonably prudent person would believe impartiality would be affected in conducting an evaluation. The court would not be able to appoint a person who disclosed such information, and an evaluator would need to step down if such information was later discovered.
Child custody evaluators would be expected to include more information in their evaluation reports, including an assessment of how the reliability or validity of their report may have been affected by the extent of information received.
The bill also would increase protocols for the evaluators’ handling, keeping, and releasing of records and information obtained in the execution of a child custody evaluation
This bill also states that a child custody evaluator shall provide to the attorneys of the parties to a suit, any party who does not have an attorney, and any other person appointed by the court under this chapter in a suit a copy of the child custody evaluation report before the earlier of: (1) the third day after the date the child custody evaluation report is completed; or (2) the 30th day before the date of commencement of the trial [changed from the 5th day].
WITNESSES: For — Charla Bradshaw and Steve Bresnen, Texas Family Law Foundation; Benjamin Albritton; Christy Bradshaw Schmidt; Aaron Robb; Alissa Sherry;
WITNESSES: Against — Paul Andrews, Texas Psychological Association; Tim Branaman;