Some professional Child Custody Evaluations or Social Investigation feel that the type of evaluator/investigator that should be appointed depends on the facts of the particular case. If, for example, there are allegations of mental health or substance abuse issues in the case, a psychologist or licensed mental health counselor (inter-familial / interpersonal relationships) will be the best choice but if there are not serious issues other than parent disagreements than an attorney (laws) social investigator may be more appropriate. In factual reality, most of what is involved in taming disagreements and conflict is related to intra-personal emotional battles between parents about children or parent time-sharing.
Even if there is no substance abuse or mental health issues a mental health professional is still the better choice to identify thought process, parenting skills and discipline patterns that are in the child’s best interest at varying developmental stages of the child.
Even if you are gathering facts, or trying to obtain evidence that may be difficult to admit in a case, a mental health professional is trained to identify and attain evidence related to intra-personal or inter-familial concerns in order to obtain your desire outcome. Mental health professionals who are trained to conduct Child Custody or Social Investigation are also trained and fluent in working with deadlines, to gather, organize, and present facts and information in a clear and concise manner and to efficiently produce comprehensive evaluation reports.
Florida Statues 61.20 state qualifications of professionals in Social Investigation click here.
Professionals in Social Investigation can be licensed Psychologists, clinical Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers, or Mental Health Counselors, licensed pursuant to Chapter 491, Florida Statues. Social Investigators are required to have multiple skills, including techniques for interviewing and assessing adults, children and families; conducting home studies and field investigations; identifying, organizing and understanding important collateral sources of information; administering and interpreting standardized questionnaires, surveys and other data collection tools; and report writing.
Social Investigators are also required to have knowledge, training and experience in the areas of child development, family systems, the effects of divorce on children and families, other issues common to families in crisis (e.g., domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, etc.).