RULE 8.6 CUSTODY INVESTIGATORS
(a) Preferred Qualifications. To qualify as a custody investigator under N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.3, a person should:
(1) have an Associate Degree in an academic field related to child care or children's services, or have at least 5 years of experience in the delivery or supervision of child care or children's services;
(2) have completed at least 18 hours of specialized custody investigation training;
(3) complete 6 hours of annual custody investigation training each year after receiving the 18 hours of specialized training;
(4) have the communication skills necessary to successfully conduct an interview, prepare a written report, and make an oral presentation;
(5) have no criminal conviction or substantiated instance of child abuse or neglect; and
(6) have been designated as a custody investigator by the presiding judge of the district where the proceeding is pending.
(b) Investigatory Responsibilities. A custody investigator shall:
(1) become knowledgeable about the child's and family's history and present situation by reviewing the court file; reviewing records and reports, including medical, law enforcement, psychological, psychiatric, and educational records and reports; and researching information about any related criminal or child protection proceeding, investigation, or allegation;
(2) obtain necessary authorizations for release of information;
(3) interview, as appropriate, social workers and probation officers to obtain background and current information regarding the child and family;
(4) interview, as appropriate, service providers (i.e. teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, neighbors, and others) who are knowledgeable about the child's and family's past and present situation;
(5) interview, as appropriate, the child's parents and siblings, and the people with whom the child resides or may reside, and other people who are significant in the child's daily life;
(6) meet and observe the child in a manner consistent with the child's developmental capabilities;
(7) observe, as appropriate, parent and 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 it on the parties at least 30 days prior to the hearing; and
(10) recommend, as appropriate, 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 may not call a witness, question a witness, file a motion, or act as a legal advocate.
(d) Post Investigation Duties. The custody investigator, by order of the court, may assist in custody and visitation issues after submission of the report.
Rule 8.6 was adopted, effective March 1, 2000.
The Supreme Court anticipates making the qualifications for a custody investigator mandatory, and will review the matter one year after the effective date of this rule.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of September 24-25, 1998, pages 8-15.