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Colorado Family Law: Recent CFI Changes

Recent CFI Changes

In Colorado, the role of the Child and Family Investigator (CFI) is to investigate, report, and make recommendations as specifically directed by the court in the appointment order. C.R.S. 14-10-116.5(2). In performing his or her duties, the CFI is required to take into consideration the relevant factors for determining the best interests of the child. Id. While the CFI is required to consider the wishes of the child, the CFI need not adopt such wishes in making recommendations to the court, unless they serve the child’s best interests. Id.

In the last two years, numerous amendments have taken place to Chief Justice Directive 04-08, narrowing the scope, responsibilities, and payment of CFIs. The Supreme Court Standing Committee on Family Issues recommended in its November 2010 Final Report that an order appointing a CFI limits the fee to be charged for all CFI appointments, in order to eliminate CFI investigations that are indistinguishable from Parental Responsibility Evaluations (PREs). Chief Justice Directive 04-08(I). In response to this recommendation, the maximum hourly fee for appointed, state paid, non-attorney CFIs is now $25 per hour, and the maximum total fee per appointment is now $625, regarding title-19 actions and $1,250, regarding title-14 actions. Chief Justice Directive 04-05. The maximum fee amount per appointed, state paid, attorney CFI is set by the OCR. Chief Justice Directive 04-08(I).

As for privately paid CFIs, the Directive establishes a presumptive maximum fee of $2,000 per appointment for the investigative and reporting work, and a presumptive maximum fee of $500 per appointment for court preparation time and testimony. CHIEF JUSTICE DIRECTIVE 04-08 (III)(A)(1) & (2). CFI fees shall not exceed these caps unless the CFI obtains prior court approval. CHIEF JUSTICE DIRECTIVE 04-08 (III)(A)(1) & (2). Even though a more cost-effective process, the cap of $2,000 will pose substantial limitations on the amount of time CFIs can dedicate to a report. Additionally, it may generate a justification to spend a reduced amount of time on the investigation and report.

Other changes include, CFIs must, in order to remain eligible for appointment, submit to the SCAO (State Court Administrator’s Office) a completed affidavit and disclosure document. Chief Justice Directive 04-08 (IV)(A). In addition, all CFIs are required to undergo and pass a criminal background check. Chief Justice Directive 04-08 (IV)(B). To be eligible for appointment, all CFIs must be listed on the Statewide Eligibility Roster. Chief Justice Directive 04-08 (IV)(C)(1). The SCAO will then determine whether to place individual CFIs on the Roster. Id.

On or after July 1, 2012, all non-attorney CFIs must be listed on both the Statewide Eligibly Roster and the Eligibility Roster of one or more judicial districts, and all attorney CFIs must be listed on both the Statewide Eligibility Roster and the District List, maintained by the OCR for that district. Chief Justice Directive 04-08 (IV)(C)(2) & (3).

Following the latest Directive amendment, CFIs no longer have the authority to perform psychological testing or drug and alcohol evaluations. Chief Justice Directive 04-08(VIII)(C) (Standard 13). Therefore, if parents need a full child-custody assessment, the only additional court ordered option offered is a Parenting Responsibilities Evaluation (PRE). CFIs are to only conduct narrow, fact based investigations, with no analysis of the parent's abilities or psychological issues. See Chief Justice Directive 04-08(VIII)(C) (Standard 8) & (Standard 13).

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