A Child and Family Investigator (CFI) is an expert that speaks on behalf of a minor child. His or her opinion plays a vital role in decisions made by the court regarding a child. Prior to giving his or her opinion to the court, the CFI interviews all involved parties, observes the child interacting with any concerned parties, and often speaks with the child. The goal of the CFI is to gather as much information as possible and provide a recommendation for parenting time and decision-making to the court that is in the child’s best interest.
The CFI’s duties are governed by C.R.S. § 14-10-116.5(I), which states:
The court may, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, appoint an individual to serve the court as a child and family investigator pursuant to subsection (2) of this section in a domestic relations proceeding that involves allocation of parental responsibilities. The court shall set forth the duties of such individual in a written order of appointment. The same person may not serve as both the legal representative of the child pursuant to section 14-10-116 and as the child and family investigator for the court pursuant to this section.
CFIs are appointed by the court to investigate a family or other situation involving a minor child. Some CFIs are attorneys, but do not act as such when investigating. Others may be child development experts, psychologists, or other experts approved by the State of Colorado. He or she must be capable of carrying out a competent investigation of the issue and create a written report for the court. CFIs are required to share the requests of a child if any are discovered.
What Decisions are Based on the CFI Report?
The information provided by the CFI, as well as the recommendations given, can be used to determine:
• Authority to make legal decisions on behalf of a child
• Division of parenting time between parties
• Counseling or other therapeutic intervention for the family
• Mediation for the family
• Custody evaluation
• Any other interventions the CFI feels are in the best interest of the child
The recommendations that the CFI makes do not legally bind a family until the court issues a final decision, referred to as Permanent Orders. However, the recommendations do play a significant role in what the court order will be. Recommendations can also be used in mediation to help parties reach agreements without court interference.
Payment for the CFI?
In most cases, the court requires a child’s parents or concerned parties to pay the fees of the CFI, which are limited by law to no more than $2,000. If the court determines payment is not possible, the CFI is paid by the state.
If you would like to know more about a CFI’s role in your custody case or you need legal assistance regarding your child, we can help. Contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.