SB 820

84(R) - 2015
Senate State Affairs
Senate State Affairs
Family Values

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Negative
  • Negative


José Rodríguez

Bill Caption

Relating to child custody evaluations and adoption evaluations conducted and testimony provided in certain suits affecting the parent-child relationship; providing penalties; creating an offense; authorizing fees.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.  

Bill Analysis

SB 820 would amend the statutes in regard to the child custody evaluation and adoption evaluations to be performed by evaluators with more stringent qualifications. This bill renames “social study” to “child custody study”. This bill also reorganizes information related to “pre-adoptive social study”. This bill would require a person to at least a master’s degree or have a license to practice medicine in this state and a board certification in psychiatry in order to be a child study evaluator. Prior to this bill, a child study evaluator would not need a master’s degree to perform an evaluation, they could possess only a bachelor’s degree.  

Vote Recommendation Notes

We have two primary objections to this bill. The first is that by increasing the level of education required to perform a study described by this legislation, people who are perfectly qualified to conduct a study but not credentialed would be barred from conducting a study. This infringes on free markets and individual liberty and is similar to occupational licensing. Aiming for higher quality is not problematic. Assuming that a credential automatically confers qualification is problematic.

Our second objection is that Article II of this legislation would prohibit expert witness testimony from anyone other than the person who conducted the child custody study. This would possibly prevent a parent in jeopardy of losing the custody of their child from bringing in an expert witness to rebut the testimony of the state's witness. Even if a parent would be allowed to have their own expert conduct a child custody study so that their expert could testify to rebut the government's witness (and it is unclear whether they would be able to), and even if they knew about this right, it would likely be very expensive for them to do so. This is a violation of due process, parental rights, and individual liberty. There is simply no good reason to limit testimony from an expert witness to one who conducted a specific study. 

Because this legislation would abridge our limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberty principles. We oppose SB 820.