A Discussion of Frequently Made Recommendations on Social Investigation Reports
The vast preponderance of literature on parenting plans indicate that the best interests of children are met by encouraging shared visitation and shared decision making. Any deviation from such would require a significant and detailed documentation of circumstances that could mitigate against these recommendations, e.g. domestic violence, child abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, parental alienation, etc., I note to frequently in social investigations the recommendations of either sole decision making or unequal time-sharing without specifically noting behaviors that warrant it. The most radical extension of this type of recommendation is supervised visitation. In my opinion, this recommendation should be rarely approved.
Another frequently recommended recommendation to the Court by a social investigator is Reunification therapy. When a child gets to the point where he/she doesn’t want to see a parent, he/she is either a subject of parental alienating behavior or is a victim of abuse or neglect. Before reunification begins, the court must be fully informed as to the reasons for the resistance on the part of the child. This will dictate how reunification therapy will proceed.
Another frequently made recommendation is for one or both parents to engage in individual therapy. This recommendation is overused particularly when there is no test data in the Social Investigation Report to support this recommendation. While anybody can make positive use of individual therapy, it is expensive and should not be required unless there a presence of a major mental health disorder or personality disorder. Similarly, children should not be required to engage in individual therapy unless there is specific data obtained from either testing or reliable collateral data of mental health issues.
Finally, supervised visitation, is all too frequently recommended to the Court. It should occur only in the rare cases in which there is a clear and present danger to the health and/or safety of the child. Even when supervised visitation is employed, there should be a remedial plan in place to facilitate the rehabilitation of the supervised parent so that he/she may obtain unsupervised visits.