Court Services FAQs

Why do I have to participate in an Child Custody Evaluation?

The Judge has ordered the evaluation to obtain an assessment of you and your family from a professional who understands family dynamics, as well as the impact of family separation and litigation on children. The judge uses this information along with information obtained during the litigation process to determine what is in the best interest of your child(ren).

How long will the evaluation take?

Adoption Evaluations are completed within 60 days of payment.  Child Custody Evaluations and Contested Adoption Evaluations are completed within 90 days assignment to the evaluator. Common factors that may delay completion beyond that time frame include:

  • missing appointments
  • unusually complex issues
  • criminal proceedings or CPS involvement during the social study
  • other issues which prevent either party from participating in a timely manner

How long will my interview last?

Interviews with the adult parties in the case can take up to 2 hours.  Interviews with a child take less than a half an hour, depending on the child's age.  Interviews with other adults in the home are fact dependent.

Do my other children have to participate?

All children living full-time or part-time in each household are a component of the family unit and are expected to participate. Each family unit will impact the children in question and it is important to see how each member contributes.

Are stepparents or family members allowed to participate in the interviews?

Stepparents will be included in the evaluation, as will live-in partners. They must complete the same Personal History Questionairre as the parties. All persons living in the home with the children will be interviewed.

May I bring my children to the Domestic Relations Office?

Do not bring your children to the Domestic Relations Office, unless specifically requested by a Family Court Services Evaluator.

What if the other party does not pay their evaluation fees?

Evaluations do not begin until all fees are paid.  You have the option of paying the other party's fees so the evaluation can begin and then seeking reimbursement at a later date.  Consult with your attorney.

What if the other party does not participate in the evaluation?

If both parties have paid, the evaluator will move forward with an evaluation based on the information received.

Do I receive a copy of the written report?

The written report is filed with the Court and provided to attorneys of record and to parties who have represented to the Court that they are acting as their own attorney.

Why have I not been contacted to begin the Evaluation?

Evaluations are assigned in the order in which they are received after all required information has been provided to Family Court Services. Typical reasons for delay of the study:

  • The signed court order has not been received, and
  • All of the assessed fees have not been paid.

What if we reach an agreement or no longer wish to pursue litigation?

Notify your Family Court Services Evaluator as soon as possible. The Evaluation will be stopped and the Court notified.

How do I obtain a fingerprint record for adoptions?

In order to comply with the Texas Family code, Section 162.0085, adoption petitioners must obtain their own criminal history record information (CHRI) from the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) and submit same to the Court for review. The process is on the TDPS website at TDPS has entered into an exclusive contract with MorphoTrust USA for this service. Below are methods to obtain the information.

By Phone:
Contact Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) at 1-888-467-2080 to setup an appointment to be fingerprinted. Callers must inform the technician that they are being fingerprinted for “Domestic or International Adoption.” A technician will assist with the completion of forms and fingerprint card for a CHRI search.

By Mail:
The individual or authorized representative must download forms and fingerprint cards from the DPS website These forms and cards must be completed pursuant to TDPS and FAST fingerprint instructions. Applicants must register the information with and mail completed forms to Morpho Trust USA.

Should you have any questions, please contact TDPS at (512) 424-5079.