Sec. 107.107: Child Custody Evaluator: Conflicts of Interest and Bias

(a) Before accepting appointment as a child custody evaluator in a suit, a person must disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney:

(1) any conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with any party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(2) any previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit, other than knowledge obtained in a court-ordered evaluation;

(3) any pecuniary relationship that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit;

(4) any relationship of confidence or trust that the person believes the person has with an attorney in the suit; and

(5) any other information relating to the person's relationship with an attorney in the suit that a reasonable, prudent person would believe would affect the ability of the person to act impartially in conducting a child custody evaluation.

(b) The court may not appoint a person as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (a) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit;

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant;

(C) the person does not have a pecuniary relationship with an attorney in the suit; and

(D) the person does not have a relationship of trust or confidence with an attorney in the suit; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's appointment as the child custody evaluator.

(c) After being appointed as a child custody evaluator in a suit, a person shall immediately disclose to the court, each attorney for a party to the suit, any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit, and any party to the suit who does not have an attorney any discovery of:

(1) a conflict of interest that the person believes the person has with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(2) previous knowledge that the person has of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit, other than knowledge obtained in a court-ordered evaluation.

(d) A person shall resign from the person's appointment as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the person makes any of the disclosures in Subsection (c) unless:

(1) the court finds that:

(A) the person has no conflict of interest with a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit; and

(B) the person's previous knowledge of a party to the suit or a child who is the subject of the suit is not relevant; or

(2) the parties and any attorney for a child who is the subject of the suit agree in writing to the person's continued appointment as the child custody evaluator.

(e) A child custody evaluator who has previously conducted a child custody evaluation for a suit may conduct all subsequent evaluations in the suit unless the court finds that the evaluator is biased.

(f) An individual may not be appointed as a child custody evaluator in a suit if the individual has worked in a professional capacity with a party to the suit, a child who is the subject of the suit, or a member of the party's or child's family who is involved in the suit. This subsection does not apply to an individual who has worked in a professional capacity with a party, a child, or a member of the party's or child's family only as a teacher of parenting skills in a group setting, with no individualized interaction with any party, the child, any party's family, or the child's family, or as a child custody evaluator who performed a previous evaluation. A child custody evaluator who has worked as a teacher of parenting skills in a group setting that included a party, a child, or another person who will be the subject of an evaluation or has worked as a child custody evaluator for a previous evaluation must notify the court and the attorney of each represented party or, if a party is not represented, the evaluator must notify the party. For purposes of this subsection, "family" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003.

Comments

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 832 (H.B. 772), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2007.

Redesignated and amended from Family Code, Section 107.0512 by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1252 (H.B. 1449), Sec. 1.08, eff. September 1, 2015.