If there are disputed issues regarding children, under Colorado law, §14-10-116.5, C.R.S., the Court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) to investigate, report, and make recommendations to the Court. Either Party may ask for a CFI or the Court may appoint a CFI if the Court believes one is needed.
The CFI may be an attorney, a mental health professional, or any other individual whom the Court believes is able to fill this role. Most CFIs are either attorneys or mental health professionals. All CFIs are required to have special training regarding the investigation of a custody case and are bound by various rules (Chief Justice Directives) issued by the Colorado Supreme Court. See, for example, Chief Justice Directive 04-08.
A CFI can investigate any or all issues in a custody case. These issues may include primary residence, parenting time, decision-making, allegations of endangerment/child abuse, and relocation. The CFI’s duties are to investigate the current situation, including meeting with the child(ren), to file a report with the Court, and to testify, if necessary concerning his or her investigation. The CFI Report is intended to be brief and focused. A CFI Report can usually be completed in 2-3 months. Once the investigation is complete, the CFI will submit their report to the Court. The recommendations of the CFI are not orders of the Court — the recommendations are considered just like any other evidence presented by a Party. However, oftentimes, the Court does follow the CFI’s recommendations or uses them as a guide for their orders.
As of 2016, in the State of Colorado, the Colorado Supreme Court set a $2,750 cap on the overall fee for a CFI unless there are extreme circumstances. Larimer County uses a $2,000 cap for CFIs. The primary reason for the cap is to provide for a predictable fee for the CFI report and avoid situations where the CFI report becomes unaffordable for Parties. The cost for the CFI is usually split between the Parties and indigent Parties may request that the State of Colorado pay for their portion if they qualify. Not all CFIs accept state pay cases. Some CFIs also offer a reduced fee basis.
There are 22 Judicial Districts in Colorado. A list of the CFIs approved by each Judicial District may be available through each District Court.
Rice Law Office can assist you in preparing for a CFI report, providing you with information about a specific CFI’s procedures, how to gather important information and provide collaterals to help the CFI understand the issues.