Rule 16.22. Custody Evaluations in Family Law Actions
(a) Applicability; Motion; Notice.
(1) This rule governs custody evaluations in family law actions.
(2) On motion or on its own, and after notice to all parties, the court may for good cause order a custody evaluation.
(3) The court may specify the individuals to be examined or permit the examiner to do so.
(1) In General. The order must specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination, as well as each examiner who will perform it.
(2) Examiner; Location. An examiner must be suitably licensed or certified. The examination must take place in an appropriate professional setting and in the judicial district in which the case is pending, unless the court orders the examination to occur in a different location.
(3) Persons Examined. The court may require a party to produce for examination a person who is in the party’s custody or under the party’s legal control.
(4) Costs. The court may assign the cost of the examination to one or more parties and may redistribute those costs as appropriate.
(5) Modification. The court, for good cause, may alter the provisions of this rule.
(c) Recording. A custody evaluation may be recorded only by the examiner, who must inform the parties if the examiner elects to record the examination. The examiner must keep the recording confidential. On motion, and for good cause, the court may order that a copy of the recording be provided to the court and placed under seal, be provided to the parties subject to appropriate restrictions upon its release and use, or both.
(d) Observers. The parties may not have an observer present at a custody evaluation.
(e) Examiner’s Report.
(1) Providing the Report to the Court. The examiner must provide a custody evaluation report to the court, and the report must be placed under seal. The court must notify all parties when it receives the report. A party and the party’s attorney may review the report in court, but may not obtain a copy of the report except under Rules 16.22(e)(2) or (3).
(2) Providing the Report to the Parties’ Attorneys. A party’s attorney may obtain a copy of the report, which the attorney must keep confidential and may not distribute without a court order under Rule 16.22(e)(3). The party may review the report if it is obtained by the party’s attorney, but the report must remain in the attorney’s possession and the attorney must not provide a copy of the report to the party without a court order under Rule 16.22(e)(3).
(3) Distribution of the Report. On motion, and for good cause, the court may permit distribution of the report, which must include appropriate restrictions on its release and use.
(4) Contents. The report must be in writing and must set out in detail the examiner’s findings, including diagnoses, conclusions, and the results of any tests.
(5) Request by the Moving Party. After the examiner provides the report to the court, the party who moved for the examination may request—and is entitled to receive—from any party, like reports of all earlier or later examinations of the same condition, which are in the possession of that party. But those reports need not be delivered by a party with custody or control of the person examined if the party shows that it cannot obtain them. Any reports in the care or custody of a court, as specified in this rule, must be sought from that court. The grant of either review or receipt of those reports is subject to the court’s discretion and the conditions in this rule.
(6) Scope. This rule does not preclude obtaining an examiner’s report or deposing an examiner under other rules, unless excluded by this rule.
(f) Stipulations. The parties may, by stipulation approved by the court, agree upon the custody evaluation, the conditions or limitations of the evaluation, and the examiner. This rule applies to any examinations agreed to by stipulation, unless the court approves a stipulation stating otherwise.
Advisory Committee Note—2019 Amendment
Rule 16.22 is new and provides procedures for custody evaluations in family law actions.