What Is A Child & Family Investigator And Their Role In My Family’s Case?

In a divorce case where children are involved, there are often parenting issues that are difficult to resolve. You may have heard that a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) might be needed to ensure your child’s best interests amid the parental conflict. Here’s what you need to know about CFIs and how they can affect your divorce or child custody case.

What is a CFI and who appoints them?

A Child and Family Investigator is an independent third-party who examines and evaluates a family situation when parental conflict is present. Issues that a CFI explores include divorce, child custody, child support, parenting time, parental decision-making, allegations of child abuse, and relocation.

Most CFIs are trained professionals in mental health, family psychology, or law. When called upon in a family law case, their focus will be on the best interests of the children involved.

You or your spouse may request a CFI in your divorce, and both of you will have to agree on appointing one. Otherwise, if there are serious or high-conflict matters between you and your spouse, the court itself could appoint a CFI by issuing a Court Order.

How does a CFI conduct an investigation?

A CFI’s investigation entails talking to all parties that may provide insight into your child’s situation. These would include you, your spouse, your family friends, your child’s teachers, and any doctors or therapists involved. The CFI will also conduct home visits with you and your spouse, looking at the living situation of your child. If necessary, the investigator might dig into documents such as medical records, police reports, and family-related papers.

On top of all these, the CFI will spend time with your child, observing the child’s own development and the child’s interaction with each parent. The investigator will listen to your child’s wishes regarding the parental issues that involve him or her.

How would a CFI affect my family law case?

A CFI not only investigates family circumstances but also provides the court with unbiased recommendations regarding the best interests of your child. He or she may also be called as a witness in your case hearing. The court gives much weight to a CFI’s report. In other words, he or she is the court’s important tool in deciding on your parental rights and responsibilities.

A CFI’s report may work in your favor if you have a great relationship with your child. It’s also wise to enlist this investigator if you suspect that your little one isn’t being treated well by the other party. The investigation may provide you with the concrete evidence you need.

On the other hand, hiring a CFI will add delays and costs to your divorce case. A CFI’s examination can take one to three months, and the investigator will require professional payments. In Colorado, the law caps CFI costs at $2,750. However, if additional work or expertise is needed to decide on your family issues, the court may issue another order allowing the CFI to charge beyond this limit.

Is hiring a CFI a good option for me and my kids?

Generally, the court will require a CFI if there are serious issues such as allegations of child abuse or parental negligence. But if you are at liberty to consider hiring a CFI, you will want to weigh this decision with the guidance of a family law attorney. A Child and Family Investigator may well be the critical factor in legally securing your child’s future.