Social Investigators play an integral role during custody disputes. They help to protect and give objective, expert advice on the best interest of your children during the dispute. These investigators are chosen and appointed by the court and a child custody attorney in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Daytona, Fleming Island or Boca Raton based on the nature of the dispute and the people being investigated. The investigator uses information gathered from friends, doctors, employers, and co-workers of the parents, as well as first hand observations of the interaction between parent and child, to testify to the court on the best organization of custody during and after the divorce proceedings.
Social Investigators are usually mental health professionals that can use insights gained
through observations and interviews as well as their expert opinion to give an accurate description of the needs of children. They are usually psychologists; however, several circuit courts in Florida have allowed family law attorneys to be appointed if there are no major mental health concerns of the parents or children involved.
What is the First Step
During your case, if an investigator is appointed, the first thing to do is to get all documents related to your custody agreements together. The investigator will want to understand the current arrangements, and understand the arrangements in the past. Most of these will need to be filed with the court and will be given to the investigator through the court. Once you have your documents together, the examination by the investigator will begin.
The assessment process will include observations, research of your past, and character evaluations from people in your life. Commonly, teachers, doctors, co-workers, and employees will be interviewed to develop an understanding of your character as well the nature of your relationships with these individuals. During this time, children and other family members will be interviewed. Especially family members that have in the past, or currently serve in a parenting role with your children, such as a live-in aunt.
Once the interviews and observations have been completed, the investigator will report the findings back to the court. The information given to the court is objective, but also analyzed and explained by the investigator using his or her expert opinion in conjunction with the surveys, questionnaires, and background checks.
A decision for child custody will be made based on the best interest of all children involved at this point, if no agreement can be made between you and your spouse. The court will analyze many factors to determine the best interest including:
- Which parent will manage, and allow time for more frequent contact with the non-fulltime parent.
- The overall emotional bond and relationship between parent and child.
- Any evidence of domestic violence.
- The location of the parent's home in relation to current schools and extracurricular programs.
- The stability of the home.
- Mental health and stability of the parent.
- The preference of the child, if the child is of a maturity to make such a decision.
Whether or not you need a social investigator is a personal decision. Most times, if an agreement cannot be made between you and your spouse through mediation by a child custody attorney or court appointed mediator, an investigator may be the best option. Most importantly, if mental health issues exist in your child, yourself, or your spouse, a psychologist social investigator is a good asset to utilize.
A social investigator may not be needed in your case if you and all the parties involve can give good coherent testimony to the court as well as provide many quality third party character witnesses. The investigator may be an expensive cost, but is a very important part of your divorce to ensure the best outcome for you and your children.
Kenny Leigh and Associates is the largest and hardest working firm in South and Northeast Florida. Kenny Leigh and Associates provides men with child custody attorney teams in Fleming Island, Jacksonville, Daytona, Gainesville and Boca Raton.