A Social Investigation is a process performed by an impartial third party whom the court has deemed qualified to provide the court, the parties, and the parties' attorneys with information and recommendations regarding the best interests of the child(ren). The investigator will interview the parties and children at issue. The investigator usually visits the children at each parent’s home. The investigator then compiles all relevant information into a written report for the judge to consider when making decisions in cases involving disputes about shared parental responsibility, timesharing, and decision making (Chapter 61.20, Florida Statutes).
There are many different circumstances that might require one or both parents to have supervised visits or exchanges with their children. The reason for the supervision will dictate the level of supervision required. Sometimes, a family member like a grandparent, aunt or uncle, can provide the supervision required. Other times, more structured supervision is necessary. There are often community non-profit centers that provide supervision services. In certain situations, it may be appropriate for an impartial third party to supervise the visits or exchanges in a less structured environment.
Evaluation of Minor Child
A minor child evaluation is much like a social investigation but it is governed by a different family law rule. The scope of the evaluation may be more limited than a social investigation, depending on what the judge orders. The evaluator will interview children at issue and, most likely, the parties and others as well. The evaluator usually visits the children at each parent’s home. The evaluator then compiles all relevant information into a written report for the judge to consider when making decisions in cases involving disputes about shared parental responsibility, timesharing, and decision making.
Guardian Ad Litem Services
A Guardian Ad Litem is much like a social investigator but governed by different rules. The scope of a Guardian Ad Litem's role will be dictated by the order appointing the GAL. The Court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate and make recommendations about what is in a child's best interests. The Guardian usually stays involved for the duration of the case (Chapter 61.403, Florida Statutes).
Adoption Home Study
Florida law requires any prospective adoptive parents to participate in a home study to determine if the proposed adoption is in the child(ren)'s best interest. The scope of the study varies depending on the circumstances of the adoption (private v. DCF, etc.). Call for fee informaton.