By: Beth Andersen
For a plethora of reasons, judges are very reluctant, and usually unwilling, to let a child testify about parental responsibilities. Nor do they want to disrupt the child’s relationship with that child’s therapist by calling on the therapist to testify about parenting.
Instead, in deciding the best interest of the child, the judges of Colorado want to hear from a court-appointed professional Child Family Investigator (or “CFI”) appointed by the court.
An important service Andersen Law provides is to guide you on whether you want to seek a CFI. If you are facing this decision, call us for a free consult to get you in the right direction.
In making the choice, here are some things to consider.
The CFI is an attorney or a mental health professional.
A good CFI will provide you with their protocols in an engagement letter. The engagement letter will include the scope of their work and when the report is due.
Keep in mind it can take a CFI 90 days or more to complete their report. If they need to travel or do extra work, they may charge more or ask for more time.
The cost of a CFI is almost $3,000 with each parent paying half. Do not be surprised if that number increases over time. Check to verify the current rates.
Do not delay. It takes time to find a good CFI and they may not be able to start right away due to their other commitments.
The duties of the CFI are listed in Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-116.5.
In summary, the CFI conducts an investigation then issues a detailed report to the court.
The CFI will interview the children and both parents. They should also speak to critical third parties such as medical providers, therapists, friends and family members. They often conduct a home visit to see the parent interacting with the child.
The CFI will also look at documentary evidence submitted by the parents. This can include records of involvement by social services, law enforcement and criminal records, drug and alcohol testing results, school and medical records, letters submitted by third parties, and anything else relevant to the proceeding.
The burden will fall on you to help provide the necessary information in large part. Stay in touch with your CFI. This is a time when an attorney, such as Andersen Law, can help you make sure you provide the proper information to tell the full story about your child and you and what parenting is best.
The law makes clear that a CFI SHALL consider the wishes of the child, but they need not adopt such wishes in making recommendations to the court unless they serve the child’s best interests.
Usually the CFI report can guide the parents toward a parenting plan and settlement. If the case goes to hearing, the CFI may be called to testify about their recommendations about parenting time, decision-making and best interests of the child in court.
It is our experience that courts usually, but not always, adopt the CFI recommendations. The CFI will have a large impact on your case. Reach out to Andersen Law PC at 720-922-3880 for tips on making sure this expert does more good than harm for your children and you.