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Certified Family Investigations and Parental Responsibility Evaluations

When child custody is disputed, courts often find it helpful to have a neutral party investigate matters pertaining to the children’s best interests in a dissolution or allocation of parental responsibilities case. There are two investigation options: one is a Certified Family Investigator (CFI) and the other is a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (PRE). The PRE is a more in-depth version of a CFI evaluation and usually conducted by a mental health professional. Parents can agree to the appointment and a court can also order one without parental agreement. Not all Judges will order an appointment, particularly if the parties cannot afford the cost. There are state paid options for those with incomes close to the poverty line.

The evaluation will involve an interview with you as well as with the other parent and third parties. You and the other parent can submit documents to the investigator that you think are relevant and helpful.

Here are a few tips to prepare for family investigations or parental responsibility evaluations:

  • Remember the purpose of the evaluation – the CFI/PRE is looking into what will be best for the child with regards to allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time
  • Focus on the child, rather than yourself or the other parent; though do raise reasonable concerns
  • Don’t show anger (even though you rightfully may feel negative emotions)
  • If you would find it emotionally helpful to vent, seek out a counselor
  • Even if it is hard, acknowledge positive things about the other parent
  • How you present yourself is important
  • Show that you can work with the other parent to ensure contact of the children with both of you (courts like to see children have contact with both parents, despite their flaws, absent safety concerns to the children)
  • Think about what documents would be helpful to provide to the evaluator and what other people to recommend that the CFI/PRE speak to:
    • Teachers
    • Church members
    • Clergy
    • Friends
    • Relatives
    • Therapists
    • Tutors

The evaluator will write a report that will be provided to the court using Colorado’s statutory parenting time factors. Review the factors in advance so that you know what is legally relevant. The realm of emotional relevance is much broader than that of legal relevance. Courts are busy and only have time for the legally relevant. Your attorney can discuss your unique situation with you and help you prepare for an evaluation so that you can go into one as confidently as possible.

A Brief Summary of Parenting Time Factors to Consider:
  1. The wishes of the child's parents;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
  4. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;  
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other;
  9. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Are you looking for a Family Law Attorney who will help you be as prepared as possible for a family investigation or parental responsibilities evaluation? At Janko Law, we understand how to provide expert assistance in child custody matters. Give us a call for a complimentary case assessment.

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