(Draft from Joint Task Force)
RULE 8.6 CUSTODY INVESTIGATORS
A person ordered to complete a custody investigation pursuant to North Dakota Century Code § 14-09-06.3 shall meet or adhere to the following standards:
(a) Minimum Qualifications. A custody investigator must:
(1) have an Associate Degree in an academic field related to child care or children's services, or have at least five (5) years of experience in the delivery or supervision of child care or children's services;
(2) complete at least eighteen (18) hours of specialized training regarding the duties of a custody investigator through a program approved by the court;
(3) complete six (6) hours of annual training regarding the duties of a custody investigator through a program approved by the court;
(4) have demonstrated communication skills to successfully conduct interviews, prepare written reports and make oral presentations;
(5) not have a record of criminal convictions or substantiated child abuse or neglect reports;
(6) be certified as a custody investigator by the presiding judge of the district in which the investigator serves.
(b) Investigation. A custody investigator has the following responsibilities:
(1) become as familiar as possible with the child's and family's history and present situation by reviewing and/or obtaining copies of the court file; reviewing and/or obtaining copies of all relevant records and reports, including medical, law enforcement, psychological, psychiatric, or educational records or reports; and researching information about any related criminal and/or child protection proceedings, investigations or allegations;
(2) obtain from appropriate persons authorizations for release of information;
(3) when appropriate, interview social workers and probation officers to obtain background and current information regarding the child and family;
(4) when appropriate, interview service providers (i.e. teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors and nurses) and others (i.e. neighbors) who are knowledgeable about the child's and family's past and present situation;
(5) meet with and interview the child's parents, siblings, persons with whom the child resides or may reside, and other persons who are significant in the child's daily life;
(6) meet with and/or observe the child in a manner consistent with the child's developmental capabilities;
(7) when appropriate, observe parent child interaction.
(8) prepare a written report regarding the child's best interests, including conclusions and recommendations and the facts upon which they are based;
(9) file the written report with the court and serve counsel for the parties and any party not represented by counsel as least 30 days prior to the hearing;
(10) when appropriate, recommend psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations, physical evaluations; parenting evaluations, chemical dependency evaluations or other evaluations.
(c) Court Proceedings. A custody investigator shall attend all court proceedings and shall testify when requested. A custody investigator shall not have the right to call witnesses, question witnesses, file motions, or act in any way as a legal advocate.
(d) Post Investigation Duties. In cases where there is no guardian ad litem, the custody investigator, by order of the court, may assist in custody and visitation issues after the submission of the report.
Rule 8.5 was adopted, effective _______________________.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of _______________________.