Rule 4-902. Limited scope investigation of domestic issues.

Intent:

To establish guidelines for referring select issues for investigation and report.

To give the court discretion to control the issues referred for investigation, the methods of gathering information relevant to the issues, and timely completion of the report consistent with the nature of the issues and the methods of information gathering.

Applicability:

This rule shall apply to family law cases in the district court.

Statement of the Rule:

(1) On motion or stipulation of the parties or on its own initiative, the court may refer select issues for investigation and report. Investigations and reports shall be performed by persons with the minimum qualifications required for a custody evaluation under Rule 4-903.

(2) The purpose of the investigation is to report to the court observations about the issues referred. The report shall not contain the investigator’s recommendations, nor may the investigator testify about recommendations.

(3) Every motion or stipulation for an investigation and report shall include:

(3)(A) the name, address, and telephone number of each person nominated or agreed upon to conduct the investigation;

(3)(B) the anticipated dates of commencement of the investigation and completion of the report and the estimated cost;

(3)(C) the issues to be addressed in the report;

(3)(D) the methods of information gathering, which may include:

(3)(D)(i) review records from a variety of sources, (for example, court records, school records, healthcare records, childcare records and records from agencies and other institutions);

(3)(D)(ii) clinical observations;

(3)(D)(iii) observation of the child’s current and proposed home;

(3)(D)(iv) interview parents, children, members of the extended family, friends and other collateral sources;

(3)(D)(v) psychological testing;

(3)(D)(vi) other information gathering methods; and

(3)(E) the name, address, and telephone number of each person the investigator should interview or observe.

(4) Every order for an investigation shall:

(4)(A) require the parties to cooperate as requested by the investigator;

(4)(B) restrict disclosure of the report except to the parties and to the court;

(4)(C) assign responsibility for payment;

(4)(D) specify dates for commencement of the investigation and completion of the report;

(4)(E) specify the issues referred, which may include those described in Rule 4-903;

(4)(F) specify the methods of information gathering, which may include those described in paragraph (3);

(4)(G) require the investigator to file the report with the court and serve it on counsel or parties within 7 days after the report is completed;

(4)(H) if the investigation or report is terminated, require the investigator to notify the court and counsel or parties of the reason within seven days after termination; and

(4)(I) require counsel or parties to schedule a settlement conference with the court and the investigator within 45 days after receiving the report.

(5) If it is the investigator’s professional judgment that the scope of the investigation should be widened, the investigator shall seek the approval of the court before going beyond the court order.

(6) If the investigator does not possess the training or experience necessary for the issue referred, the investigator shall notify the court and counsel or parties.

(7) If psychological tests are administered, they shall be conducted by a licensed psychologist who is trained in the use of the tests and who adheres to the ethical standards for the use and interpretation of psychological tests in the jurisdiction in which he or she is licensed to practice.