Child and Family Investigators (CFI) and Parental Responsibility Evaluators (PRE) are court appointed evaluators that can play a number of roles in a child custody issue. These professionals conduct an investigation of the relationship (issues like relationship history, problems, and lifestyle) and write a report making suggestions on what they believe is in the best interest of the child. The judge will read the report and recommendation before hearing the case; but is not bound by the evaluation. The CFI/PRE will act as a neutral investigator for the court and can be called as a witness, if needed. Often times these reports favor one parent over the other.
CFI vs PRE
CFIs and PREs work in similar ways, but a PRE evaluation will go deeper into the life of the relationship than a CFI evaluation. PREs are sometimes used when one parent doesn’t like a previous assessment by the CFI. PREs and CFIs can be expensive; CFI fees are generally capped at $2000* while PRE fees can be up to $10,000 or more, depending on the case. PREs can also conduct psychological evaluations, while CFIs cannot. In the broad scope PREs are not used nearly as often as CFIs, but it is important to know the difference between the two. An experienced attorney will be able to help you decide which one may work best for your case.
Who can be a CFI/ PRE?
A CFI can be an attorney, mental health professional, or anyone with knowledge of child development. CFIs and PREs are regulated by the State of Colorado and must pass an FBI background check before being eligible for appointment by the court. PREs will meet the CFI standards but will also be experts in family or child development. It’s a smart idea to research the CFI/PRE in your case and the internet it a good place to start looking at blogs or social media. DORA is another place you’ll want to check for complaints and disciplinary actions.
Child Family Investigators and Parental Responsibility Evaluators can be extremely useful tools, when used correctly. In some cases, multiple PREs or CFIs can be used; in either case it is important to have an experienced Denver divorce attorney to help guide you through the process.
*As of January 2016 the cap on CFI’s is now $2,750 which does not include testimony.