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Florida’s Social Investigation and Parenting Plan Program

While most family law practices in Winter Park, like Frank Family Law, urge parents to come to an agreement about parenting during their divorce proceedings, that is not always possible. When parents fail to agree, then the court can order a social investigation to develop a parenting plan. That plan will determine what happens to the children after the divorce is finalized. While the process can be intimidating, a complete understanding of how it is designed to operate allows you to cooperate fully.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan outlines what happens to minor children after the divorce. It must contain a schedule of how the child’s time is split between the two parents unless the court finds that one person’s parental rights should be ended. The plan may also contain information about who sees the child’s social development, healthcare needs, education, and many other areas.

Can You Request a Parenting Plan?

You have the right to request a social investigation leading to the development of a parenting plan. The other parent has the same rights. It is important to remember that the investigation will be conducted by a neutral party. Judges often put a great deal of weight on these reports. Therefore, it is often in the best interest of both parties if they can develop a plan on their own as they know their children best.

Who Conducts the Social Investigation?

The social investigation will be conducted by a specially trained individual who normally has a degree in social work or mental health. The person must have no prior knowledge of either parent or know the children. It is vital to remember that the person simply makes recommendations to the court, and the judge may decide to do as the plan suggests or develop a different plan. The plan must be in accordance with Florida Statues section 61.20

What Does the Investigator Do?

The exact course of action taken by the investigator is left up to their professional opinion, however, there are steps that most investigators follow including:

  • Doing a background check on both parents to determine if there are any underlying issues that the court needs to recognize
  • Checking the police records to make sure that there are no outstanding warrants or that the person is not wanted on charges for indecency with minor, domestic violence or other cases that may have an impact on their decision
  • Interviewing the parents and the child
  • Interviewing the network surrounding the parents and child including employees and school personnel
  • Expect the interviewer to watch interactions between the parent and each child
  • If others are living in the home, those individuals will be interviewed

When you are going through a divorce, you need help to arrive at decisions that are in the best interest of your children. Therefore, you should contact a family law practice in Winter Park, like Frank Family Law, to guide you each step of the way. You can call this family law practice at (407)629-2208.