Part 3. Fact Finding

§48-9-301. Court-ordered investigation.

(a) In its discretion, the court may order a written investigation and report to assist it in determining any issue relevant to proceedings under this article: Provided, That the court must serve notice to all parties of the court’s order. The investigation and report may be made by the guardian ad litem, the staff of the court, or other professional social service organization experienced in counseling children and families: Provided, That the court shall identify to all parties the identity of the assigned investigator, and the investigator shall be a compulsory witness and subject to full examination and cross-examination by both parties. The court shall specify the scope and objective of the investigation or evaluation and the authority of the investigator.

(b) In preparing the report concerning a child, the investigator may consult any person who may have information about the child and the potential parenting or custodian arrangements: Provided, That the person(s) consulted by the investigator shall be identified to the parties and shall be subject to complete discovery including but not limited to pre-hearing deposition. Upon order of the court, the investigator may refer the child to professional personnel for diagnosis. The investigator may consult with and obtain information from medical, psychiatric or other expert persons who have served the child in the past without obtaining the consent of the parent or the child’s custodian; but the child’s consent must be obtained if the child has reached the age of twelve, unless the court finds that the child lacks mental capacity to consent. If the requirements of subsection (c) of this section are fulfilled, the investigator’s report may be received in evidence at the hearing.

(c) The investigator shall deliver the investigator’s report to counsel and to any party not represented by counsel at least 10 days prior to the hearing unless a shorter time is ordered by the court for good cause shown: Provided, That in no event shall the hearing take place until after the report has been provided to the parties and the completion of any discovery requested thereupon. The court may grant a continuance, upon motion by a party showing good cause that discovery cannot be adequately completed within 10 days. The investigator shall make available to counsel and to any party not represented by counsel the investigator’s file of underlying data and reports, records or documents reviewed or relied upon by the investigator, complete texts of diagnostic reports made to the investigator pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, and the names and addresses of all persons whom the investigator has consulted. Any party to the proceeding may call as a hearing witness the investigator and any person whom the investigator has consulted for cross-examination. A party may not waive the right of cross-examination prior to the hearing.

(d) Services and tests ordered under this section shall be ordered only if at no cost to the individuals involved, or at a cost that is reasonable in light of the available financial resources.