Parent Survival Guide Parent Survival Guide Issue 02 (Spring) - Page 7

Advocate for the court orders to include the issues that you believe must be investigated

Be prepared to clearly and consicely present evidence on, and only on the issues listed in the order

Don't let preparation compromise your authenticity or that of your children

2. Read your order very carefully

While this may not be equally the case everywhere, most courts in Colorado have greatly improved how CFI orders are written, specifically with respect to the particular issue(s) to be investigated. It is therefore critical that a judge be made aware of the issues you believe require focus so that they are included in the order. Once the order is issued, it is very important that parties read their order carefully. In addition, your order is likely to contain other valuable information such as the responsibilities of all parties, payment arrangements, the length of the investigation, and when the CFI will step off your case (typically upon submitting their report to the court).

3. Stick to the issues on the order

A common tendency for parents is to try to get the CFI across their entire situation, but this is unreasonable and even detrimental: it compromises the CFI’s ability to make strong and clear recommendations to the court. CFI is only going to get a brief glance at your situation, so focus on the issues within the order and present your case in a focused and concise fashion. For example, if one of the issues listed on the order is that one parent is interfering with or obstructing the child(ren)’s relationship with the other parent, be prepared to present relevant evidence during your interview with the investigator.  Trust that the investigator is a professional trained to identify such negative parental behaviors.

4. Prepare but don’t over do it

Preparation is of course important but don’t overdo it. You need to be completely honest and authentic. Your house should be relatively clean and organized for the CFI’s home visit, but note that the CFI wants to see your household as it is typically. An immaculate house with a three course dinner ready to be served and the child(ren) doing chores will look unnatural and even suspicious. And, importantly, do not coach your children: CFIs are trained to identify parental coaching and will most likely address it in their report. Ahead of interviews and home visits, I suggest that parents inform the children of the upcoming investigation in a brief and straightforward way. Answer your children’s questions, but keep it brief.

Even if you make the most of your CF investigation, it has limitations. It's appropriate for only relatively minor issues, and is ill-suited for evaluating psychological wellbeing. In fact, unless specifically directed by the order and if the appointed CFI is qualified, the CFI mandate explicitly prohibits an investigator from conducting any psychological testing. Therefore, if you feel that psychological or psychiatric issues are at the crux of your situation, the CF investigation is not for you. Instead, you may need to consider a Parental Responsibility Evaluation (PRE), which is a longer, more in-depth, more invasive and much more costly process. Discuss your concerns with the judge to maximise the chance that the ordered course of action is appropriate for you.

Patrick Monnier is a former CFI in Colorado

spring 2017 PSG 7