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What is a Child Custody Home Study? by @FullCustodyDad

What is a Child Custody Social Study?

A Child Custody Social Study, home study, or custody evaluation, is sometimes a court ordered document from which a judge may seek additional information on who should be the primary custodial parent. May times, especially in my home state of Texas, judges will ask social workers or custody evaluators to perform a social study to learn home details that they cannot otherwise determined through courtroom proceedings. Even if not court ordered, attorneys may also request a social study to be done on both parents to help decide the primary residence of your kids.

The social study itself is usually a written report investigating the parents involved in a custody suit. The report regularly includes the parents living conditions, employment, educational backgrounds, home settings, parenting styles and availability of other family members who regularly interact with the kids. These studies are conducted by case workers, social workers, or other 3rd party child custody evaluators, who are experienced and experts in with working with families and children.

This process should not be taken lightly. Many times recommendations from a social study are followed precisely by a judge when awarding custody. (It played a significant role in winning my custody suit.)

The custody evaluation primarily consists of an extensive written questionnaires about your background, your children, and others living in your home. It also includes one or more visits to your house to study your environment and your regular interactions with your children. During the first phase, you and your Ex will be asked separately to give references of people who know you and your kids. These individuals should be professionals including teachers, doctors, psychologists, therapists, caregivers and others who know you and your children well. Additional family members may also be contacted to provide additional information and to verify facts. So don’t lie on your questionnaires.

Child Custody Social Worker by Fred Campos http://DaddyGotCustody.comNext the custody evaluator will schedule at least one separate visits to you and your Ex’s home during a time that you have possession of your kids. Their purpose is to watch your interaction with your children, study your living arrangements, your availability, and decide the most beneficial home environment for the kids. For example, when my caseworker arrived at the door with a clipboard, he first asked to see the kid’s bathroom, my medicine cabinet, and my daughter’s room. I’ll dive deeper into the specific elements they are looking for and share real details of my specific home study in future posts.

Finally, all of this information, along with the home visit evaluation will be placed in a report that will be submitted to the judge in your case. This information, along with other information presented to the judge during the custody hearing, will be the basis for the court’s primary custody decision.

Tell me about your social study? Did your court or your attorney order a social study?

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Fred Campos, Top Geek, blogs about everything from education to parenting. In addition to blogging, he is a public speaker and humorist in child custody, social media, web development and parenting. He is married to one SuperParentMom blogger, and raising three world changes. For more details on websites, Like this post? Make sure you subscribe to this blog.

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{ 16 comments… add one }

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  • Delores Collins January 4, 2016, 11:23 am

    My 11 year old daughters father and I just completed our social study. We were never married and until a year ago, the father was not very active in her life. I am confused by the social workers recommendation of 2/2/3 schedule when the child has never spent, nor desires to do so, that kind of time, she has been in counseling since the temporary order awarded him joint temporary conversatorshio because of her anger and resentment about the order. After a year, she still does not want to go during his possession periods.

    • FullCustodyDad January 4, 2016, 1:18 pm


      Common question and common concern. Unless there are life threatening circumstances, severe documented external factors, it is the general belief (and backup by data) that children, especially before their late teens, should spend as much time with both parents (if possible). What is the concern of not wanting to visit dad’s house? Are those concerns legitimate and extreme?

      Parents seem so caught up in the concept that my “child” doesn’t want to go during the other parents possession. Of course they don’t. My daughter didn’t always want to visit her mom. She didn’t always want to come home either. She didn’t always want to do her homework, or brush her teeth.

      But she’s a kid, and she doesn’t get to make those decision. Furthermore, those decision should never be based on what the kids want to do. Kids are kids and custody and visitation are adult decisions.

      Be very careful that in no way your daughter’s feelings toward visiting the dad are coming from you. If so, it will slip into parental alienation and you could lose custody over it. Now if it is extreme, sexual abuse toward your daughter, or your daughter watches daily drug deals at your Ex’s, well that’s different. By the way, I’m not trying to be funny, but it does have to be “extreme.”

      For example, after my Ex was arrested for assault, my judge found my Ex a real threat to both me and my wife, yet he didn’t alter my Ex’s visitation with our daughter. Why? He stated “She won’t be a threat to your daughter on her weekends.”

      Co-parenting is hard on any circumstances. Encourage your daughter, that these are the rules, and like going to school, or brushing your teeth, it’s what’s best for the child otherwise present to the court the “extreme” harm of this schedule.

      • Delores Collins January 6, 2016, 3:05 pm

        My concern really has to do with our daughters distress. When this started over a year ago when her father filed for custody, she resisted because she had never spent time with him. It was difficult for her to adjust to a day visit every now and then to the standard visitation, Plus, he always told her she had s choice as to visit or not. Now, it’s turned into resentment for being “made” to go (her words). This factor combined with hearing her father bash me and her step dad has turned into a really difficult situation. Everyttime she returns home, we have to go through about two days of changed behavior including her being overly clingy to defiance. While she is with her dad, I hear from her all through the night until early morning hours saying she wants to come home. Frankly, it appears that her visits with her dad causes more work for me! I certainly don’t have a peaceful night because of the phone calls and text from her. With her lack of adjustment to what is already in place, I can not imagine what we will,all go through with such a drastic change of 2/2/3. I am continually in prayer that all will work out,

        • FullCustodyDad January 6, 2016, 8:18 pm


          I can SO feel your pain–your statement has been my life for the last 12 years. I have tons to say on this subject and a few suggestions. This issue is so common it actually has a name… “Re-Entry.” I think for the benefit of all, I will write a separate post about it. Stay tune, I’ll have my thoughts together in the next few days. Oh, before I forget or get back with you, I am concerned if your daughters are hearing her father “bash” you and step-dad, that is a valid and important issue that needs to stop.

  • Delors Collins January 6, 2016, 3:08 pm

    You mentioned backup data that shows the shared parenting works, could you share a link? Thank you

    • FullCustodyDad February 1, 2016, 10:36 am


      well I wasn’t referring to data that shared parenting works, just that their is significate benefits to kids visiting and spending time with their father. That was my point. Here is an article about the benefits… 10 Reasons Alienating Dad is Bad for Your Kids.

      Let me know if this helps! :)

      • Monica November 21, 2016, 9:20 pm

        My boyfriend has been going through a divorce now for a year and a half. His ex has supervised 1 hour a week visitations due to drug addiction issues. Claims to be sober now but her actions speak otherwise.

        Anyway, the GAL gave recommendation that my boyfriend have sole custody of the kids and everything should remain as is and now they ordered a child custody study. we are both ready to rip her hair out we don’t know what more she can do to drag this out and this is her third a lawyer because she has not cooperated with the previous two. in your experience how long does it take to complete a child study?

        • FullCustodyDad November 23, 2016, 4:28 pm

          Well in Texas I’ve seen it take anywhere from three months to two years. I am sad to tell you from the time the home study was requested until it was presented in court was about 2 1/2 years. My entire custody case took 4 1/2 years from the moment I filed until the final court order. I know, not exactly the news you wanted. These things take time. BUT… I would express this concern to your attorney and have him/her push it through as fast as possible.

  • Randy December 21, 2016, 12:59 pm

    I have been given temporary custody of my child until the court order social study is done. I have paid my portion to have the study done her mother has not, what do I do?? Please help.

    • FullCustodyDad December 21, 2016, 3:19 pm

      Randy, if you have “temporary custody” sit back and relax. There’s no rush if you are the temporary custodian. These things take time and the longer the better (if you are seeking custody). From the time I paid the social study until the study and final were heard was two years.

      • Coley O'Toole March 15, 2017, 10:49 pm

        My ex and I were not married and she moved to Louisiana from Texas without my permission back to her where her family lives. She could have stayed and gone back to work like we planned but after the child she chose not to. I moved out because of the abuse and stress it was causing me to ruin my new business I started a month before we found out we were having a baby. Long Story short. I filed over two years ago. A few months back I was told by the social study group that my fee was around $450 and that my ex was to pay the $3,700 because of the long distance. Well about 60 days ago I found out my fee’ was $2,100. We went to court 30 days ago because I had not had the study done and the judge gave me 30 days to pay the fee or my ex gets everything they have been asking for. The fear is Full Custody and child support way above (tripling) my current minimum wage support I have been paying. Can the judge really throw the case out and punish me for not paying the fee in time? I am also moving next week and barely affording those expenses as is. I feel this is all really bad timing. I would love nothing more than to have a social study done. My ex has finished hers but she is also being funded by her rich grandparents. We have joint conservator-ship He lives mostly with his mom. No way am I able to take care of him with my business being so young and time consuming and her not here to help. Any advice?

        • FullCustodyDad March 19, 2017, 9:14 pm


          Life sometimes dishes us a bad hand at bad timing. My situation began similar to yours as I began during a failing business.

          In short my advice is going to sound a little harsh… It is time to dig in and work two jobs and decide what you want. When I first filed, I worked my business hard during the day and waited tables several nights a week to pay my attorney. Second, I would be-friend or hire an attorney like your life depended on it (because it does). I did work for my attorney to help bring down the fees.

          In short, you have to work your way out of it. Dealing with custody, even if you are not fighting for primary custody is going to be the most expensive endeavor you will ever come across.

          Hang in there and keep us posted.

  • Ethan January 20, 2017, 10:15 am

    I have read through almost all of your articles to further understand what is involved in my upcoming home study.

    My son is 7. My visitation has been very irregular due to my prior service in the Air Force and my location. I have tried to have him as much as I can when I can but I will be the first to admit I have not been around as much as I should have or wanted.

    Recently, my son was being left at home alone and being brought up to the Mother’s work at a restraunt while she was working. Her fiancé is a convicted felon and their resources are greatly limited. She is also on welfare programs. The judge issued a rule 11 against her to ensure my son has constant adult supervision and appointed a social worker to perform a home study.

    My situation is that I have a great position with a major company and can more than provide for my family. My income is at least 3 times more than both her and her significant other. I have a M.S and a well-respected professional designation. My wife is a stay-at-home mother. I have two other boys with my wife that are some of the best behaved kids I have ever met. Our home is much more stable and well-suited for children.

    Will my irregular visitation cause the home study to not be in my favor? I have had a him a few times a year since he was born and I am now seeing him every other weekend.

    Thank You,


    • FullCustodyDad January 24, 2017, 6:13 am


      thanks for researching and reaching out. Hopefully the articles have been helpful. You sound like a great Dad. The social worker is going to review your current visitation status, your current availability and interaction with your son. From this moment forward you must exercise all your time with your son. I think prior Air Force service and exercised visitation will be acceptable as long as the irregularity is in the past.

      Feel free to express your concerns during the interview with the social worker. Be kind and factual. Continue to be the best parent you can be! Good luck.

  • Kenny April 6, 2017, 4:44 pm

    Hi There,

    This is good information. My boyfriend and his ex wife have 50/50 and joint conservator-ship. She decided one day that wasn’t working for the kids, even though they have a wonderful relationship with both parents. She is requesting a social evaluation, and we have a hearing in May because she wants us to split it. How quickly after they are ordered, do they start? We are moving to a house, and would like to be in it before it starts, as we currently are in a two bedroom apartment and don’t want that to hurt our case. We were just stuck in a lease, so there wasn’t much we could do.. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you so much. You’ve provided some peace of mind.

    • FullCustodyDad April 7, 2017, 7:05 am

      In North Texas the social study is a two part process. 1) You fill out tons of paperwork answering a series of questions, who lives where, who works where, a bit about your background etc. 2) They call you and schedule a home isit at a time when you have the kids. While it has been a while, both of these items for me and most people I know happened really slow (3-9 months).

      House is better than apartment by far, but kids feeling comfortable in an organized kid centric home is the key. Talk to your attorney but my guess if they are pushing to have the social study done, your hearing will get moved out. But before school starts for sure. — My guess anyway.

      Keep the apartment clean, be ready for the call.