During the social study evaluation process, the social study evaluator will conduct personal interviews with each parent and the children. The social study evaluator should interview each child individually outside of the presence of the parents. Additionally, the social study evaluator should interview each parent individually (individual interview). Finally, the social study evaluator should interview the child/children with each parent (group interview). These interviews could all take place on the same day.
The purpose of these interviews is for the social study evaluator to ask any questions of the parents and/or the children out of the hearing of the other. Another purpose of these interviews is for the social study evaluator to gain insight regarding the parent-child relationship of each parent and the children through personal observation of the parents and the child. It is important to prepare for both your individual interview and your group interview with the social study evaluator. These interviews are your opportunity to allow the social study evaluator to observe your parenting abilities and skills first hand. Therefore, although this process may seem a bit unnatural, it is important that you engage with your children during these interviews as you do on a daily basis. Generally, the group interview, if not all of the interviews, will take place during the home visit portion of the social study process.
The “Home Visit”:
The Texas Family Code requires that the social study evaluator conduct an evaluation of the home environment of each party in a custody dispute, unless the court order states that the home environment is not an issue being disputed. I will refer to this portion of the social study process as the “home visit.”
The social study evaluator will let you know the date and time that the home visit will occur. Make sure that you have an activity planned during this time, so that that social study evaluator has the opportunity to observe you interacting with your children. If the home visit is to occur during breakfast or lunch, then go ahead and proceed with your normal breakfast/lunch routine with your children. If the home visit is scheduled to occur during mid-morning or early afternoon, then consider playing a board game or doing homework with your children during this time. Do not just sit on the couch with your children staring at the social study evaluator. Keep in mind this will likely be your only opportunity for the social study evaluator to personally observe you with your children.
Finally, the social study evaluator must also conduct a personal interview of any and all persons that reside in the residence the subject of the social study. Therefore, if you have a roommate or relative residing with you, then they will also undergo a personal interview with the social study evaluator during this process.