Frequently Asked Questions

Photo This FAQ is a work in progress. It covers some of the more common questions that we are asked regarding our services. If, after reading through the information on our other pages and in our forms section, you have a general question that is not listed here please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with more details about our services. As a reminder, we cannot respond to questions regarding specific case details unless a formal working relationship has been established.

Q: How long does it take to complete a custody evaluation (social study evaluation)?

A: Generally evaluations can be completed within four to five months from the first interview, however this timeframe is highly dependent on the parties and attorneys involved responding promptly, the flexibility of the parties' schedules, time needed to receive collateral records, and other case specific issues. If the evaluation is needed by a certain date please make sure that issue is brought to our attention when services are initiated. If the parties are willing and able to commit to a competion deadline we have a program targeted at insuring quick turnaround. You can read more about it here.

Q: The court signed the order appointing y'all days/weeks/months ago. Why have we not heard from your staff?

A: The number one answer to this question is we have not received all of your intake information. This includes all of the documents listed on our Forms and Fees page, along with initial retainer payments. Sometimes no one has sent us the appointment order in the first place, and we are unaware we have been assigned to your case. If you have not sent one or more of these items, please review the instruction letter for the particular service you need and follow through on those directions. If you have sent these items in we may be waiting on additional information from other parties or your attorney. If you have completed all the steps on the instruction letter, please call us to check that we have the required order, forms, and fees.

Q: Do you take insurance?

A: Most of the services we offer are not reimbursed by health insurance because they are legal, rather than healthcare, services. For therapy, or other services that are reimbursed by insurance, a statement of services can be provided so clients can seek insurance reimbursement directly. Dr. Robb is currently not on any insurance panels and does not bill insurance directly. Some of our associates also provide individual and family therapy in their own practices. Because of our various histories with insurance panels, grants, county contracts, etc., where the focus has been on working with individual providers, the professional staff at Forensic Counseling Services manage their clinical services individually.

Q: The fee statement notes that some issues take more time to evaluate. Why is that?

A: Generally, additional time to complete an evaluation comes from three areas: additional interviews of stepparents, fiances, stepchildren, roommates, and other persons relevant to the case; review of extensive documentation from professional sources such as Child Protective Services, previous hearings, past psychosocial evaluations, etc.; and review of additional concerns raised during the course of a social study, i.e. issues brought to emergency hearings or CPS investigations during the course of the evaluation. While these are the most common areas that necessitate additional time to complete the evaluation there are many other case specific issues that can crop up during an evaluation.

Q: Do you use any psychometric testing instruments in your evaluations?

A: Not typically. Although our staff are trained and licensed to administer common test instruments, generally we do not use such testing in our evaluations. While research has been able to provide some preliminary data on testing with parents who are involved in custody litigation, most test instruments were actually designed to be used with clinical populations who are seeking treatment for mental health issues, and thus are not appropriate for use in a forensic (court-connected) process. Additionally, review of the psychometric "tests" which purport to be designed for child custody cases indicates they are either experimental in nature or are without sound empirical proof of their effectiveness/reliability in providing valid information.

Q: What is the difference between a social study and a child custody evaluation anyway?

A: Nothing. "Social study" is an archaic term for a child custody evaluation. Texas has finally updated its statutory language to match national practice. For those interested in historical references, please see the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (commentary to Section 112, page 22). Even the UCCJA (predecessor to the UUCJEA) used "custody investigation" and "social study" interchangeably (commentary to Section 19, page 18).

Q: I’m the biological parent petitioner in a stepparent adoption, do I have to get a fingerprint background check and a CPS Central Records Check?

A: Yes. Any person 14 years or older in the home must complete these checks, including any biological parent and we must document them. This is a requirement under the Texas Administrative Code:

735.305(a)(5) Adoptive parents and any person 14 years of age or older (excluding foster children or children in adoptive placement) who regularly or frequently stays or works in the adoptive home must request a fingerprint-based criminal history and central registry background check. The results of those checks must be documented.

Q: But I’m the child’s biological parent!

A: We know, but we are required to follow the Texas Administrative Code when conducting both pre- and post-placement Adoption Evaluations. While we recognize that not all Adoption Evaluators do so, we do not believe it is ethical to ignore our court-appointed duties, or to place adoptions at risk for being overturned for administrative failings.

Sec. 107.159(a) Unless otherwise agreed to by the court, the pre-placement part of an adoption evaluation must comply with the minimum requirements for the pre-placement part of an adoption evaluation under rules adopted by the commissioner of the department.

Sec. 107.160(a) Unless otherwise agreed to by the court, the post-placement part of an adoption evaluation must comply with the minimum requirements for the post-placement part of an adoption evaluation under rules adopted by the commissioner of the department.

The Department of Family and Protective Services is the State agency that sets these requirements. We do not have the ability to change them.

Q: Why can't you be both our individual counselor and parenting facilitator?

A: The Family Code addresses in Section 153.6102(e) “A parenting facilitator may not serve in any other professional capacity at any other time with any person who is a party to, or the subject of, the suit in which the person serves as parenting facilitator, or with any member of the family of a party or subject. A person who, before appointment as a parenting facilitator in a suit, served in any other professional capacity with a person who is a party to, or subject of, the suit, or with any member of the family of a party or subject, may not serve as parenting facilitator in a suit involving any family member who is a party to or subject of the suit. This subsection does not apply to a person whose only other service in a professional capacity with a family or any member of a family that is a party to or the subject of a suit to which this section applies is as a teacher of coparenting skills in a class conducted in a group setting. For purposes of this subsection, "family" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.003.”

This section prohibits a professional from serving in the role of both counselor and parenting facilitator. Licensed professionals who fail to comply with these requirements place their license at risk of adverse actions. We are glad to serve in either role and work with another professional in the other role.

Q: Do you work with Collaborative Law cases?

A: Yes. Dr. Robb is available both as a child specialist and as a communications consultant in collaborative law cases. Please see the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas for more information regarding collaborative divorce in Texas.

Q: I need services, but want to use someone else. Who can you recommend?

A: We can't be all things to all people, so we recommend searching for other providers at

Q: How do you handle Protected Health Information (PHI) in your services?

A: Our detailed Notice of Privacy Practces (NOPP) can be found here. The short answer to the question is that for most forensic services there is an exception in federal law regarding access to PHI. See CFR 164.524(a)(ii) regarding exemption for "[i]nformation compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding." That said, litigants who have completed a child custody evaluation (social study) or who are participating in parenting facilitation generally have the right (unless otherwise restricted by the court) to be provided copies of all information in our possession regarding their case. As these services do not generate PHI, but may collect it, we are unable to alter the information contained in the records we receive; you would need to contact the original creator of those records to make corrections. For services that are not court-connected we follow state and federal law in regards to access and changes to the PHI we create.

Q: Can my records and/or my PHI be sent electronically?

A: Yes. In most cases records and/or PHI can be sent as electronic files on CD rather than paper copies. The copy cost remains the same, as most of our documents are kept in hard copy and have to be scanned in order to be burned to disk, however postage is usually cheaper for CDs than large paper files.