When parents divorce or separate and can’t agree on certain or all elements of a parenting plan (such as time-sharing with their children or who can make decisions about the children’s education or healthcare) then the court may order a “social investigation” to evaluate what is in the best interests of the child(ren.) This process has previously been referred to a “parenting plan evaluation” or a “custody evaluation, ” but today most orders signed by a judge today refer to “social investigation.” These social investigations are done by mental health professionals, such as a licensed mental health counselor, or other mental health professional that is certified by the Court, and are usually coordinated by an attorney or the parents themselves upon the Court’s order.
A social investigation is carried out by a neutral and impartial mental health professional with particular expertise in child development, divorce proceedings and developing parenting plans that meet the needs of the child and the co-parents.
Social investigators undertake a very thorough assessment of the child(ren) and parents in both the office and home setting (if at all possible.)
Parents are required to provide to the social investigator:
• Personal details necessary to complete background checks of parents and anyone regularly caring for the children;
• Doctors, teachers, therapists and employer information for both the parents and the child(ren) ;
• Character references who have observed the child(ren) and the parents;
• Any other information deemed important to make recommendations about co-parenting;Information gathered and observed by the social investigator is compiled into a report with the findings and recommendations to the parents and the Court. The ultimate decision in whether or not to implement the social investigator’s recommendations remains with the Court.
Dana Nolan has been working with parents in conflict and their children as a parenting coordinator and a social investigator since 2009 in addition to her 20 years experience as a licensed mental health counselor. She has a wealth of experience in the field of high-conflict parenting and resolution in the best interests of the child regarding parenting issues and how these issues may or may not affect the child’s mental health and emotional development. Dana is a well-liked presenter and has spoken for three years in a row at the Florida Dispute Resolution Conference on topics related to parenting coordination and working with parents who are in high-conflict.
Please contact Dana at 407-340-2474 or use our contact form, for any questions about professional rates/retainer for social investigation or to see if she is taking any new referrals for social investigations.
For Counseling, Contact Dana Nolan at: 407-340-2474
For Nutritionist, Contact Tejal Paekh at: 321-438-2831