Do I Need a Child and Family Investigator for my Divorce or Separation?

In short – it depends.

A CFI is useful for determining what  parenting regime is best for your children in the event you and the other parent cannot agree. Navigating the complexities of APR during a dissolution or marriage or separation can be emotionally and legally challenging for all parties involved. In the state of Colorado, the legal system has established a process for appointment of a CFI to ensure the best interests of children are prioritized in disputes among parents. The rules relating to APRs and a CFI are found in Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) Section 14-10-101, et seq. This post discusses the role, responsibilities, qualifications, and significance of a CFI in the state of Colorado.

Understanding the Role of a CFI

CFIs are neutral third-parties appointed by a court to assist in fact-finding for determining what is in the best interest of a child in an APR. CFIs provide the judge with relevant information and recommendations that contribute to decisions about parental responsibilities, parenting time, and decision-making authority.

Responsibilities of a CFI

a. Investigation: A CFI conducts an investigation by gathering information from parents, children, schools, medical professionals, and any other relevant parties including, but not limited to, grand-parents, other family members, therapists and social workers. The CFI should then be able to provide the judge a comprehensive analysis of the child’s living environment, relationships, and needs.

b. Interviews and Observations: CFIs often conduct interviews with a child and the child’s parents. These interviews may be conducted individually or together, depending on the situation. CFIs might choose to observe interactions between a child and each parent to assess their parenting styles and the child’s comfort level, too.

c. Review of Records: CFIs can, with some limitations, review records related to the children, including school records and medical records.

d. Report and Recommendations: The CFI prepares a detailed report that outlines their findings and recommendations based on the information gathered. This report is submitted to the court and is taken into consideration during a judge’s determination as to what is in a child’s best interest related to parenting time, parental responsibilities and decision making.

Qualifications and Training

To become a CFI in Colorado, individuals must meet specific qualifications outlined by C.R.S. 14-10-116.5. These qualifications typically include a background in law, mental health, social work, or a related field. CFIs must also undergo specialized training to develop the necessary skills to assess the best interests of children involved in familial disputes.

A CFI’s Significance

CFIs ensure the court has a comprehensive understanding of the child’s needs, circumstances, and relationships. CFIs contribute to more informed decisions regarding parental responsibilities allocations, parenting time arrangements, and decision-making authority. Their input aims to minimize the emotional toll on children and parents while prioritizing the child’s well-being. A CFI’s report can also aid parties in resolving disputes involving children through mediation because a judge is likely going to follow the CFI’s recommendation at a permanent orders hearing. Meaning, if a CFI has rendered a report, the parties have a better understanding of what a judge will do at permanent orders and can work to determine what is best for their family without judicial intervention.

Conclusion

CFIs conduct thorough investigations, provide unbiased recommendations, and focuson the best interests of the child through their analysis. This process can be beneficial not only to children, but parents engaged in time consuming and expensive litigation.

If you are going through a dispute with the other parent of your child, contact Cribbet & French, LLC to discuss your options moving forward. We have good working relationships with CFIs in Colorado’s High Rockies and the Front Range.