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FAQs

PARENTS

Is there a cost for a Social Investigation and Study when ordered by the court?
Unless the judge affirmatively orders differently, the standard charge is $2,000 and is equally divided between the parties 50% - 50%. When the judge orders otherwise, the responsibility for payment is specified in the court order. 

Order of Referral

How long does a Social Investigation and Study take?
No investigation is started until payment is received. Once both parties have paid, the case is assigned to an investigator. Under ordinary circumstances, a written report is submitted to the court file and copies mailed to the attorneys or pro se parties within 75 days.

Is it possible to begin a Social Investigation and Study without a court order?
The Office of Social Investigation and Study does not have the authority to initiate an investigation without prior authorization from the court. A copy of the court order must accompany the payment or money order.  (Note: the office does not make recommendations of private practitioners in the community)

What if I do not have an attorney?
The Legal Information Center (http://www.fljud13.org/LegalCommunity/ForCitizens/LegalInformationCenter.aspx)  [813-864-2280] is available for Pro Se litigants to provide information relative to the legal process and instruction on how to complete the Family Law forms. Form packets are available at (http://www.fljud13.org/CourtPrograms/DomesticRelationsCaseManagementUnit.aspx)

Who will the investigator talk to during the Social Investigation and Study?
The investigator will interview each parent  and the child(ren) who are the subjects in the investigation; other child and adult residents in the home will also be interviewed.  In addition, third party/collateral information is gathered from sources such as schools, day care facilities, doctors offices, coaches, etc.  As a matter of routine, criminal background checks will be run on all adults living in the respective homes of the parents where the child(ren) will potentially reside.

Are investigators available to testify at depositions and court hearings for a separate fee?
Investigators are available to testify at depositions and court hearings for a separate fee. A subpoena and at least 7 working days notice is required to depose investigators or to ensure their presence at a court hearing; as indicated in the Order of Referral of Social Investigation and Study, the costs or fees for deposing the investigator and seeking in-court testimony shall be negotiated in advance with the Office of Social Investigation and Study.

Does the judge sometime instruct the investigator to address one specific issue?
The Order of Referral of Social Investigation and Study contains instructions from the judge regarding the subject matter the court wants addressed in the investigations. These issues can include:

    • Initial Determination of the Parenting Plan and or Time-Sharing schedule
    • Modification of the Parenting Plan and or Time-Sharing schedule
    • Determination of the Parenting Plan and or Time-Sharing schedule where the Hillsborough County Court maintains jurisdiction and one party resides outside the 50 mile service area of the office
    • Home Inspection(s)
    • Other

What happens if one party lives outside the 50 mile service area of the Office of Social Investigation and Study?
The service area is limited to 50 miles (radius) of the George Edgecomb Courthouse at 800 E. Twiggs Street, Tampa, FL  33602 for assignment of investigators from this office. If one party resides beyond the service area it is their responsibility to find a local investigator to complete that segment of the investigation. (Note: the investigator chosen by the party is subject to the approval of the Office of Social Investigation and Study)

Does the Office of Social Investigation and Study accept requests from other jurisdictions? 
The Office of Social Investigation and Study does accept Social Investigation and Study requests from other jurisdictions when authorized by a court order from that location. The ability of this office to service referral orders from other jurisdictions is dependent on local service demands and the availability of investigators.

INVESTIGATORS

Are there standard qualifications outlined for investigators?
Yes. Florida Statute 61.20 (2) specifies a Social Investigation and Study, when ordered by the court, shall be conducted by qualified staff of the court; a child-placing agency licensed pursuant to s. 409.175; a psychologist licensed pursuant to chapter 490; or a clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, or mental health counselor licensed pursuant  to chapter 491.

How can I apply to become a contractor for the Office of Social Investigation and Study?
Email a resume and two writing samples of assessments you have completed to OSIS@fljud13.org