Family Court Services

Frequently Asked Questions

George Allen Sr. Courts Building . 600 Commerce Street . Suite 201 . Dallas, Texas 75202

How long will the social study take?

Social studies average 90 days to complete from the date of the first appointment. Common factors that delay completion beyond that time frame include:

  • missing appointments
  • unusually complex issues
  • need for psychological assessment
  • criminal proceedings or CPS involvement during the social study
  • other issues which prevent either party from participating in a timely manner

Do I have to meet in the same room with the other party (my ex.)?

It is customary to have at least one session where the clients to the suit are seen at the same time. As the vast majority of our clients will continue to co-parent their children, it is important to observe how the parents work together. If family violence has occurred or protective orders are in place, then clients are not usually seen together.

Do my other children have to participate?

The children living within each household, who are not the subjects to the suit, are seen as a component of the family unit. Each family unit will impact the children in question and it is important to see how each member contributes.

Why do I have to do this?

The Judge has ordered the social study for the purpose of obtaining a neutral assessment of you and your family from a professional who understands the family dynamics and the impact of divorce and litigation on children. The judge uses this information and the rest of the information obtained during the litigation process to determine what is in the best interest of the children.

How long does the orientation last?

The orientation lasts approximately ninety minutes. In most cases your first interview will follow the orientation and can last from one to two hours

Do I have to repeat the orientation if I have attended before?

If you have attended the orientation for either a social study or mediation within the last twenty-four months, you do not need to repeat.

Are stepparents or family members allowed to participate in the interviews?

Stepparents are welcome to attend orientation and they will be included in the social study, as will fiancés and living partners. They must complete the same personal history information as the clients. However, as the first interview is designed to gain historical perspective of the original family unit and the issues of the case, it usually involves just the named clients. All persons living in the home with the children will be interviewed. Children should not attend orientation or the first interview.

Do I receive a copy of the report?

Copies of the report which Family Court Services files with the court are only available to the attorneys of record or to clients who have represented to the court that they are acting as their own attorney.

Why have I not been contacted to begin the social study?

Cases are assigned in the order in which they are received after all required information has been provided to Family Court Services (FCS). Typical reasons for delay of the study:

  • The signed court order has not been received by FCS
  • All of the assessed fees have not been paid
  • FCS has received an unusually high volume of cases.

How do I obtain a fingerprint record for adoptions?

In order to comply with the Texas Family Code, Section 162.0085, effective September 1, 1995, adoption petitioners must undergo a criminal background check completed by the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin, Texas.

To obtain the criminal background check the following is required:

  1. Have your fingerprints taken at any police or sheriff's department.
  2. Send the completed fingerprint card(s) in a large envelope with a $15.00 money order and a cover letter explaining that you are requesting the background check for an adoption to:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Crime Records Service
PO Box 15999
Austin, TX 78761-5999
Attn: Correspondence Section
  1. You may expedite the background check by using overnight Federal Express and sending the fingerprint card(s) along with a $15.00 money order and a cover letter explaining that you are requesting the background check for an adoption to: Texas Department of Public Safety
    Crime Records Division
    5805 N. Lamar Blvd., Bldg. G
    Austin, TX 78752