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713-437-4729 (Fax)

Social Study Investigations
The Adoption Social Study
The Contested Custody / Parenting Time Social Study
Issue Based Investigations
Social Study Fees
Substance Abuse Testing
Social Study InvestigationsTop

Family Court Services provides the Harris County Family District Courts with social study investigations of the circumstances and conditions of the child and home of any person requesting adoption or contesting custody or parenting time of a child.

The Adoption Social StudyTop

All petitioners for adoption in Texas are required to participate in a pre-adoptive home screening and post-placement adoptive report. Family Court Services combines the two into an adoption social study. The adoption social study investigation is an evaluation of the circumstances and condition of the child, the petitioners, and the adoptive home environment. A written report is filed with the Court. The report may include interviews with adults and children as well as community information resources. A report is written and filed with the Court.

The purpose of the social study is to provide the Court with a source of impartial, objective information to determine whether an adoption is in the child's best interest. After assignment, it takes approximately sixty (60) days to complete and file the social study with the court.

The Contested Custody / Parenting Time Social StudyTop

A Family District Court may order a social study investigation when custody or parenting time of a child is contested. The investigation is an objective assessment of the needs of a child(ren) and each parent's or interested parties' ability to meet those needs. Information is collected from home visits; interviews with the parents, child(ren) and collateral witnesses; school records; medical and mental health experts; Harris County agencies; and other sources to determine the best interest of the child.

A written report is filed with the Court in approximately ninety (90) days after assignment. The report includes the evaluator's recommendation as to which party may provide the most nurturing and stable environment for the child. The recommendation of the Evaluator will be taken into consideration by the Court and/or Jury when making a decision in the case.

Issue Based InvestigationsTop

The Issue-Based Investigation is a focused, fact-finding endeavor that provides specific information to the Court in less time than required for a complete social study. Typically, a Court will request an IBI during temporary hearings in which critical information is either unavailable or unreliable. The Court specifies one or two specific issues to be investigated, and instructs when the findings are to be reported. The IBI cannot provide custody recommendations.

Social Study FeesTop
  • The fee for the adoption social study is $250.00.
  • The fee for a custody/parenting time social study is based on a sliding scale per the attached order.
  • The fee for an issue based investigation is $125.00.

Social Study fees are nonrefundable and must be paid before the investigation begins. Fees can be paid in cash, cashier's check, money order, or credit card to the Harris County Domestic Relations Office at 1310 Prairie, Suite 700.

Substance Abuse TestingTop

The Division interfaces with local providers to facilitate substance abuse testing pursuant to a court order.  Test results are received at our Intake Office and filed with the Court.


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