The Wasser Agency

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Private Investigator in Miami, FL. Surveillance Investigation Miami and Divorce Investigation. South Beach Investigator. Miami Investigator

Child Custody Investigations Miami Beach South Beach

Child custody and legal guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the child to make decisions and the parent's duty to care for the child.

Forms of custody

Child Custody Investigations Miami Beach South Beach

Alternating custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent and an alternate amount of time with the other parent. While the child/children are with the parent, that parent retains sole authority and responsibility for the child/children. This type of arrangement is also referred to as divided custody.

Shared custody is an arrangement whereby the child/children live for an extended period of time with one parent, and then for a similar amount of time with the other parent. Opposite to alternating custody, both parents retain authority over the child/children.

Bird's nest custody is an arrangement whereby the parents go back and forth from a residence in which the child/children reside, placing the burden of upheaval and movement on the parents rather than the child/children.

Joint custody (la garde conjointe in French) is an arrangement whereby both parents have legal custody and/or physical custody.

Sole custody (la garde exclusive in French) is an arrangement whereby only one parent has physical and legal custody of the child/children.

Split custody (la garde divisée in French) is an arrangement whereby one parent has full-time custody over some children, and the other parent has full custody over the other children.

Third-party custody is an arrangement whereby the children do not remain with either biological parent and are placed under the custody of a third person.

Domestic investigations (for example child custody) are the least favorite and most dangerous of all investigations conducted by private investigators. They are the basis of most of the stereotyping of investigators found in the media, movies, and television: the private investigator jumps out of the bushes to photograph the cheating spouse. That stereotype does not portray private investigators in the most favorable light. Does that mean that domestic investigations are not worthwhile? Absolutely not, they are very necessary and a major source of income for many investigators.

Some investigators will not do domestic investigations that have the purpose of “catching” the cheating spouse. In some states, such as Florida, divorces are no-fault; there does not have to be an allegation of wrongdoing to obtain the dissolution of the marriage. Therefore, it is not necessary to determine if one of the parties is unfaithful. However, it is human nature for the parties to want to know if their spouse is committing adultery.

There are many other types of domestic investigations including determination of custody, locating children abducted by their noncustodial parent, and asset investigations of the parties involved. In the custody issue investigation, the role of the investigator is to document the fitness of one or both of the parties to obtain primary custody. The location of abducted children usually revolves around the location of the missing parent. The asset investigation is designed to uncover all assets, hidden and obvious, of one or both of the parties. All of these investigations result in evidence being presented on behalf of one of the marital parties to support his/her position.

Like most of the investigation, domestic investigations are, in essence, legal investigations designed to produce testimony at some point in time that will be used in court by one or both parties. The investigator may be called upon to refute or confirm claims on a financial statement, or present testimony and evidence regarding the suitability of a parent seeking custody of a child.

Child custody is one of the most heavily contested decisions in divorce proceedings. There are two types of child custody: physical custody entitles a parent to have his/her child live with him or her, and legal custody refers to the right and duty to determine aspects of your child’s upbringing (e.g., education, medical care, etc.).

There is also a difference between sole and joint or shared custody. In many cases, parents are awarded joint legal custody even in situations where only one parent is awarded sole physical custody. In situations where one parent has sole physical custody of a child, the court may award visitation rights to the other parent.

Visitation allows the parent without physical custody to spend time with his/her child. When awarding custody, the court considers many factors, such as the age and emotional state of the child, as well as the income, employment status and living situation of each parent. Start the process by finding an attorney to help you file for custody.

Beginning the Legal Process

Child Custody Investigations Miami Beach South Beach

Consider mediation: Courts may order mediation once custody proceedings have begun, but you can also use a mediation service to settle your custody arrangements out of court. Mediations are conducted by trained professionals who can help you and the other parent come to an agreement regarding your child’s custody.

Mediation is a neutral process. The mediator will help you and the other parent come to a decision that is in the child’s best interest.

Even if you are unable to come to an agreement in this process, mediation can help you come to an understanding of the main issues in the custody dispute. It can also help you prepare a plan for how to proceed in court, if necessary.

Many courts offer mediation counseling or referrals to trained mediators.

Begin looking for an attorney: Filing for custody is not something you want to try to handle by yourself. You'll want to hire someone familiar with your state's custody laws to help you file the right paperwork and include information that will help you get sole custody. If you fill out the forms incorrectly or leave out important information, you might not end up with a custody agreement that meets your and your child's needs.

Ask your friends, family and colleagues for a recommendation. It is especially helpful if these people have been in a similar situation. These referrals are often useful because you can have some idea of what to expect from the attorney before you meet with him/her.

Look for a reputable lawyer with several years of experience in family law, especially those who have helped parents work out custody agreements.

To find an attorney in your state, call your state bar association and ask for a referral, or look online at the state bar website under the “referral” section.

Before scheduling a consultation, check with your state bar association to confirm that the attorney you’re considering is eligible to practice in your state. You will also be able to see whether the attorney has a disciplinary record.

Offer evidence of abuse or danger: This is very unlikely to apply to most custody decisions. However, if you believe that the other parent is a serious danger to you and/or your child, you should collect and provide evidence that will support your argument, including:

Police report that indicate violent or aggressive behavior on the part of the other parent. If police reports are not available, you should do your best to document on your own the date, time, place and details of any abusive behavior.

  • Medical bills or records that are suggestive of abuse or neglect.
  • Photos that document incidents or injuries.
  • Statements from witnesses that describe a dangerous pattern of behavior by the other parent.
  • Psychiatric evaluations of the child.

Attend mediation: Once custody proceedings start, a judge will likely order mediation. Mediation is run by professional mediators whose job is to help parents collaborate on a plan to arrange custody. Many states offer mediation services that are operated in conjunction with the courts.

Mediation may work faster than a court proceeding. Many judges consider it to be less stressful for the child.

In some cases, mediation can be done with each parent separately.

Your willingness to cooperate with the other parent is likely to be considered by the judge when making the final custody decision.

Understand that a judge may order a custody evaluation: If you and the other parent can't come to an agreement, the court may order a custody evaluation. This evaluation is usually done by a mental health professional or social worker with special training in family issues.

During the evaluation, the evaluator will interview the child, the parents and other relevant persons (teachers, doctors, etc.). The evaluator may observe the interactions between parent and child in a home setting.

In some cases, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem rather than a custody investigator. The Guardian ad Litem is, essentially, an attorney appointed to consider the child’s best interest in the custody decision.

If the court orders a custody evaluation, the judge may assign an evaluator or provide you with several options. You may also be able to hire a private evaluator, but keep in mind that this will be significantly more expensive.

The Florida (Miami Beach – South Beach included) courts will not allow a complete “cut off” of the other parent’s right to see their child, have overnights with their child, or have a relationship with their child or to make decisions regarding the child. What the courts will do is implement common sense provisions to protect a child.  The courts can give a parent shared responsibility with one person making the tie-breaking decision if they cannot decide on an issue, supervised visits, daytime visits, or sometimes no visits until a condition is met such as mental health evaluations. The realistic outcome for people that want what they call full custody/sole custody is that the other parent's responsibility and or time sharing is limited in certain ways.

Under Florida law, child custody is decided by the courts based on the best interests of the child under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a national set of laws governing child custody throughout the country. Child custody includes both legal and physical custody. Parents with legal custody of their child are allowed to make decisions regarding education, religion, medical care, and discipline. Physical custody involves the actual location where the child will reside.

Child custody may be either shared or sole custody. The Florida courts have a strong preference for shared custody arrangements, also known as “time-sharing,” unless there is evidence to suggest that shared custody would not be in the best interests of the child.

In Florida, parents have the option to agree on a parenting plan outside of the courtroom, which establishes the “time-sharing” schedule for the parents and addresses how parental responsibilities, including legal decisions, will be handled between the two parties. The time-sharing schedule sets forth the time that each parent will spend with their children during the week and during the weekends, as well as where they will sleep each night. These schedules also address where children will spend their time during school breaks, long weekends, and on holidays.

If parents are able to agree on a parenting plan through negotiation, they can then submit the plan to the court, where it will be approved as long as both legal and physical custody have been adequately addressed.

Hiring a Miami Beach – South Beach Private Investigation Company will give you a peace of mind. Private investigators can help determine whether a child is being neglected or abused. If the investigator comes to the conclusion that abuse or neglect is not a factor, parents can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children are secure.

However, if your investigator does discover child neglect or abuse, having evidence documented will go a long way during the court proceeding. With covert surveillance and background checks almost always necessary in proving improper conduct, possessing strong undeniable evidence is often the determining factor between winning and losing custody cases.

Contact the Wasser Agency to get advice and support on child custody investigations. We are located in Miami Beach – South Beach, Florida. Our web page at