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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR SOCIAL INVESTIGATION PROGRAM
What happens during a home study?

The judge in my case ordered a home study. How do I prepare for this?

How much do home studies cost and who pays the fee?

What happens after the Social Investigation is completed?

How long does it take for the final report on the home study to be completed?

Who do I contact if I have any other questions?

If I am a person with a disability and need assistance, who do I contact?

What happens during a home study?
The social investigation is performed by an impartial mental health professional, according to F.S. 61.20, who is qualified to provide the court, the parties, and the parties’ attorneys with a thorough report addressing the best interests of the children. Social Investigations in the 11th Judicial Circuit consist of a home-study and assessment which may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Interviews with each child, parent, step-parent, or adult in a parenting role 
  2. Visits to the homes of each parent
  3. Observations of each child with each adult in parenting role
  4. Screening for domestic violence and abuse; all allegations are investigated
  5. Contact with others living in each home.
  6. Contact with relevant professionals, such as teachers, doctors and employers
  7. Interviews with objective character references submitted by each parent
  8. Background checks of relevant police and court records
  9. Findings of related cases, when identified
  10. Completion of relevant surveys and questionnaires as requested by the social   investigator
  11. Presentation of facts to the court, addressing all the pertinent details relevant to a child’s best interest, and addressing parental responsibility and time-sharing arrangements as requested.
  12. May include recommendations to the court.

The judge in my case ordered a home study. How do I prepare for this?
The Social Investigator will ask each of the parties for the same information, to be provided either before or during the Investigation process as the discretion of the Investigator. Please have any written information that you think the Social Investigator should review on hand at the interview or sent to the Investigator if requested before the first meeting. This should include copies of any court orders and parental agreements involving the children. Also, if there are people you feel are objective and could offer insight, such as pediatricians, babysitters or teachers, have their names and contact numbers available for the Social Investigator. Your availability to the Social Investigator is paramount to having the Social Investigation completed in a timely manner.

How much do home Social Investigations cost and who pays the fee?
The total cost is $650 and paid in cash or money order directly to the Social Investigator before the evaluation is initiated. The judge decides how to split this fee between parents or can reduce or waive the fee upon his or her own discretion.

What happens after the social investigation is completed?
The Social Investigator prepares a final report, making recommendations to the judge regarding the request information specified on the court order. This information may include recommendations to the court regarding: the initial determination of parenting time, modification of parenting time, assessment of parental home environments, and shared/sole parental responsibility. The report is forwarded by the Social Investigator to Family Court Services, who sends the document to the judge and parties in the case, their attorneys and Guardian ad Litem, if any. Typically, a hearing before the judge is then scheduled to determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren) and the appropriate order is issued.

How long does it take for the final report on the home study to be completed?
Reports are usually issued within between 30-45 days of the judge's order for Social Investigation and full payment of the fee is made. The Social Investigator may request an extension from the judge, including a full explanation of the reason(s) as to why more time is needed to complete the procedure. Parents are expected to cooperate with the Investigator to expedite the process so that the information can be provided to the court without delays.

Who do I contact if I have any other questions?
For further questions, you may contact Family Court Services at (305) 349-5508.

If I am a person with a disability and need assistance, who do I contact?
If you are a person with a disability and need assistance to appear in court or participate in a court program or service, please contact: Please contact ADA Coordinator, at:
Voice Mail: (305) 349-7175
TDD: (305) 349-7174
Fax No:. (305) 349-7355
 
 

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