CHILD & FAMILY INVESTIGATION
Forms for your reference:
CFI Policies - General
CFI Policies - Communcations
CFI Disclosure Agreement
CFI Fee Agreement
CFI Release - Medical
CFI Release - Non-Medical
CFI Intake - Self Report
CAREFUL REPORTING FOR A CHILD'S BEST INTEREST
When children are involved in a divorce, child and family investigators (CFIs) help sort through complications like parenting schedules and decision-making responsibilities. Trained and certified mental health professionals, individuals with experience working with children, or attorneys, CFIs will observe and evaluate a family situation to offer the court their unbiased recommendations regarding the best interest of children involved in a divorce or separation.
A trained child and family investigator as well as a mental health professional, CFI Julia Olson conducts her investigations with an acute awareness of a child’s developmental needs — particularly for children who may already struggle with other unrelated issues such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. Olson seeks to conduct careful investigations that are sensitive, informed, and centered on the unique needs of every child.
COLORADO CFI understands that, by its very nature, a child and family investigation may feel awkward, uncomfortable, or even scary for many parents. As such, we encourage clients to be open and honest with any concerns as the investigation is underway. Before beginning the CFI process, we encourage parents to read more below to learn about the specifics of the investigation and what the court expects from the CFI’s final report. It's important to note that investigations are intended to be efficient, nonintrusive and cost effective solutions to parenting conflict. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us via email or at 303-304-4212.
WHAT DOES THE CFI PROCESS LOOK LIKE?
1) PAPERWORK | Each party will first need to fill out a series of forms ("intake paperwork") and return to the CFI before the commencement of the investigation. What type of forms need to completed depend on what type of CFI appointment it is (i.e. "Private Pay" or "State Pay"). Each party will need to review and sign/date the CFI Policies, CFI Disclosure, Communication Policies, and Fee Agreement, as well as fill out and sign/date Medical Release Forms (one for the parent and one for each child involved), Non Medical Release Form (listing each child as a dependent on the form), and a Parent Self Report. If the CFI appointment is "Private Pay," payment needs to be made before beginning the investigation. You may download all necessary intake forms above.
2) PARENT INTERVIEWS | Once the CFI has received all completed paperwork from both parties (and payment if necessary), the CFI will reach out to each party individually to schedule an initial one-on-one, hour-long interview. This usually takes place at Julia's office located at 2810 North Speer Blvd in Denver, CO 80211. The interview should just include the parent (not the children) and is an opportunity for the parent to share his/her concerns and ask the CFI questions about the investigation process.
3) BACKGROUND CHECKS | In most cases the CFI will pull a Colorado Bureau of Investigation Report (criminal background check) on both parents before attending home visits. In some cases, the CFI will also pull a background check on significant others living in the homes.
4) HOME VISITS | After each parent has an opportunity to come in for an interview, the CFI will travel to each home to conduct a home visit. The
expectation during the home visit is that all people living in the home be present, including the children. This is an opportunity for the CFI to make naturalistic observations of parent-child interactions.
5) CHILD INTERVIEWS | If the children involved are old enough, the CFI will conduct private child interviews during each parent's home visit. The CFI will often ask parents if there are ways to help their child or children feel more comfortable or relaxed about the interviewing process. The CFI will conduct each interview in an area of the house chosen by the child and/or that feels most comfortable to the child. Most children 7 years old or younger will not be asked to engage in a formal interviewing process. However, the CFI may conduct a brief child interactional with younger children, in which naturalistic observations will be made through play.
6) INVESTIGATION | Once the CFI has met with the parents individually, completed both home visits, and met with the children individually, she will reach out to personal references and other professionals familiar with the family. This may include close relatives, good friends, teachers, medical or mental health professionals, probation officers, child mentors, or coaches.
7) FACT REVIEW AND SYNTHESIS | Once all necessary information is accrued, the CFI will review the relevant facts and analyze them under the Best Interest of the Child Statute (see below).
8) REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONS | Lastly, the CFI prepares a final CFI report with recommendations to the court on parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. The scope and depth of the recommendations largely depend on the original CFI appointment and the Judge's or magistrate's specific directives in that order. It's important to note that the final CFI report simply contains recommendations for the Court, not final decisions regarding parenting responsibilities. The court makes all final decisions.
COLORADO'S BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD STATUTE
The Best Interest of the Child Statute is a set of standards that the Colorado Court System considers when making decisions regarding parenting time and decision-making responsibility. As a parent, it helps to review this statute before beginning an investigation. Click here for the full statue or see the summarization below describing the criteria that the court considers when making decisions regarding parenting responsibilities. The CFI will analyze findings under each of these items.
PARENTING TIME: C.R.S. 14-10-124 (1.5) (a)
The wishes of the child's parents.
The wishes of the child, if sufficiently mature.
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, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time.
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 (this was repealed and is no longer a part of the criteria).
Whether a party has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse (this was repealed and is no longer a part of the criteria).
The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
DECISION MAKING: C.R.S. 14-10-124 (1.5) (b)
Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly.
Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child.
Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties.
A perpetrator of child abuse or neglect may not have decision-making over the other's objection.
A perpetrator of spousal abuse may not have decision-making over the other's objection, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.
IRRELEVANT CONSIDERATIONS: C.R.S. 14-10-124
Prohibits courts from considering the following in determining the best interests of a child:
Conduct which does not affect a party's relationship with the child (since Colorado has no-fault divorce, courts don't want custody fights to be an excuse to bring in irrelevant allegations, such as adultery).
Gender of the parties.
A request for genetic testing.
A parent leaving the home due to the other's spousal abuse.