The top divorce attorneys know that whether to get a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) involved can be a critical decision for certain cases. When two parents cannot agree on parenting time and/or decision making, the court can appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI). The job of the CFI is to investigate the matter and issue a report regarding parenting time and/or decision making. The recommendations of the CFI should be based on the’ best interests of the children” since that is the standard the Judge will use.
However, the standard of “the best interests of the children” can be one of the hardest standards to predict how a CFI or Judge will apply it to a particular case.
The problem is that although the CFI and Judge are required to determine the best interests of each child by considering the list of factors I will set forth below-it is a very squishy standard.
The factors are:
- The wishes of the child’s parents;
- The wishes of the child, if sufficiently mature (typically starts about 12 or so);
- The relationship between the child, the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
- Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
- The physical proximity of the parties to each other;
- Whether a party has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;
- Whether a party has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse;
- The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
However, even though there is this list of factors, the CFI and Judge will still try to determine what is best for the child based on how they see the facts and circumstances of your case.
Keep in mind that the quality of the CFI’s recommendations is highly dependent upon the CFI’s training, experience, and ability to obtain and analyze the critical facts and evidence in your case. Moreover, even the “best” CFI does not always get it right.
The cost of a CFI in Colorado is capped at $2,000*. However, if the case warrants additional work and/or expertise, the Court can issue an order allowing the CFI to charge more than $2,000.
If you think your case might require a CFI, you should speak with a top divorce attorney to determine whether this is the right option for you and your children.
*As of January 2016 the cap on CFI’s is now $2,750 which does not include testimony.