Parenting Plan Facilitation
What is a Social Study and Parenting Plan Facilitation?
Parenting plan facilitation is unique to the 12th Judicial Circuit and was formerly known as the Custody Monitor Program. The court may order a social study and parenting plan facilitation when the court finds that the parties’ lack of cooperation negatively affects a child’s relationship with a parent, and/or when the parties are unable to establish or comply with previously ordered or agreed upon contact arrangements between the parties and the child(ren). A parenting plan is a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to decisions made regarding the minor child(ren), and it must contain a detailed time-sharing schedule for the parents and the child(ren). The parenting plan may include issues concerning the child(ren) such as the child(ren)’s education, health care, social, physical, and emotional well-being. This program is meant to address chronically problematic contact plans, only to be used as a last resort in the most extreme instances.
Parenting plan facilitation is a social study conducted by a qualified mental health professional to help parties establish or modify parenting plan arrangements. In order to reduce conflict and to assist the parties in establishing a contact plan, the parties will communicate through the parenting plan facilitator during the social study period unless the facilitator determines otherwise. There will be at least three judicial review dates set by the court that the facilitator and the parties are required to attend. The facilitator informs the court as to each party’s commitment to the principles of shared parenting and any obstacles identified to establishing an effective parenting plan that would benefit the child.
What Can I Expect From a Social Study?
- Parenting plan facilitation;
- Interviews with each child, parent, and parent surrogates;
- Monitoring and direct participation with the family to relieve conflict between the parties;
- Establishing, modifying, and recommending to the court a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child or children.
Parenting plan facilitators are NOT parenting coordinators, nor are they performing a full social investigation/evaluation for the court.
Who Performs the Social Study and Parenting Plan Facilitation?
Facilitators can be clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, or mental health counselors licensed pursuant to Chapter 491, Florida Statutes, or psychologists licensed pursuant to Chapter 490, Florida Statutes. Licensure must be in Clear and Active Status. Facilitators are required to possess multiple skills, including techniques for interviewing and assessing adults, children and families; identifying, organizing and understanding important collateral sources of information; and report writing.
Facilitators 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.), and the accepted standards of professional conduct governing their respective professions. Facilitators are required to have completed the Supreme Court certified family mediation course. They are authorized to conduct a social study pursuant to section 61.20 of the Florida Statutes.
What Is The Procedure?
The court may order a social study and parenting plan facilitation:
- Upon the agreement of both parties;
- Upon the request of either party;
- Upon the court’s motion when the parents do not agree on parental responsibility or time-sharing arrangements.