When there is a child or children involved in a divorce in the state of Florida, one of the main goals and responsibilities of the court is to ensure that the best interests of the child are protected in any and all child custody matters. In strongly emotional or combative situations, where tensions are high, it is often necessary to have a social investigation conducted by a mental health professional.
Florida has eliminated the practice of giving one parent full custody of a child (unless it is warranted) and now relies on a model that is based on timesharing schedules and parenting plans.
Keep in mind, a child custody attorney can work to help protect one parent’s legal interests, but “custody” isn’t a term that is recognized in the state of Florida anymore.
However, if parents are not able to agree on a parenting plan, then the 2016 Florida Statutes state that the court may order a social investigation to take place. This will investigate all pertinent details that relate to each parent and the child (or children) in question.
In most cases, the social investigator is a mental health professional and always an impartial, neutral third party. Another option is that the court may appoint a licensed psychologist, a family therapist or a clinical social worker to handle this process. In any situation, the investigator has to be neutral, which means they cannot have an existing relationship with the children or either parent.
When a social investigation is ordered, the court will appoint the investigator and outline the specific issues that need to be addressed. Some of the issues that are investigated during this process include:
When making these determinations, the investigator is going to analyze each parent, their lifestyle and predilections prior to making any recommendation regarding parenting time issues. Some assessments and considerations that are made during the social investigation include:
What the investigator discovers may lead them to recommend equal time, or for the children to spend more time with one parent. In some cases, which are rare, if there is an unfit parent, it could lead to the investigator recommending that one of the parents receives all of the parenting time. In most cases, the court is going to put a great deal of importance on what the Investigator finds and recommends.
If the court has ordered a social investigation, or if you are worried about the parenting plan being created, you should hire a child custody attorney in Florida. If you have questions or need more information about this situation, contact the lawyers at the Estevez-Pazos Law Firm by calling 305-717-7130.