The Role of the Social Investigator in Florida Custody Disputes
The most challenging part of a divorce where children are involved is determining where those children will live after the split, and how much visitation time the other parent will have with the children. While it may be ideal for parents to reach a consensus on these issues without going to court, often spouses have become too embattled to find an amicable arrangement without outside help. When custody disputes end up before a court, the judge will use a number of sources to determine what arrangement would be in the child’s best interest, including the report of a social investigator. Read on for more information about the social investigation process.
Social investigations are evaluations of the parents and children involved in a custodial dispute, typically conducted by neutral mental health professionals. Courts may order that a social investigation be conducted where a judge has concerns about the fitness of a parent, the safety of a child’s living situation, or other concerns for the child’s well-being. Parents may request a social investigation if they have concerns about their child’s living situation or believe that their child is being abused by that co-parent. During a social investigation, the mental health professional may conduct a study in one or both of the parents’ homes, speak with character references submitted by the parents, interview the children and parents, speak with other family members who have a prominent role in the child’s life, or conduct background checks into the criminal and professional histories of the parents. The investigator will compile the information gathered from their research into a report, which may include recommendations on how the judge should allocate custody. These recommendations can have a major impact on the court’s decision. For that reason, it is important to hire a Florida family law attorney who can help you prepare for the social investigation process, and can rebut a report that appears to you to be biased or incorrect.
If you are in need of experienced and compassionate legal assistance with your Florida divorce or custodial dispute, contact Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, for a consultation on your case, with offices in Pensacola (850-912-8080), Sandestin (850-424-6683), and Fort Walton Beach (850-200-4652).