SECTION 1. Section 21A of chapter 119 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2016 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out said section and inserting in place thereof the following:-
Section 21A. Evidence in proceedings under sections 21 to 51H, inclusive, shall be admissible according to the rules of the common law and the General Laws. The court may appoint a neutral investigator to investigate facts relating to the welfare of the child. The investigator may, at the court’s direction, file with the court a full report, under oath, of all facts obtained as a result of the investigation. The report shall be admissible in evidence if offered by a party or, upon 30 days’ notice to all parties, by the court. The investigator may be called as a witness by any party for examination as to the statements made in the report. The examination shall be conducted as though it were on cross-examination. Reports written by parties or their experts shall not be admissible in proceedings under section 21 to 51H, inclusive, unless such reports are otherwise required to be prepared under the General Laws. Evidence may include testimony of foster parents or pre-adoptive parents concerning the welfare of a child if such child has been in the care of the foster or pre-adoptive parents for six months or more, and may include the testimony of the child if the court determines that the child is competent and willing, after consultation with counsel, to testify.
SECTION 2. Section 24 of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out paragraph 5.
SECTION 3. Paragraph (a) of section 26 of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the words, “section 21A”, the following :-
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