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CFIs, PREs and allocation of parental responsibilities

The abbreviations CFI and PRE are terms commonly used by courts in Colorado proceedings involving the allocation of parental responsibilities. Moms and dads in the greater Denver area who have had to go through a child custody or parenting time dispute may realize that these titles refer to two slightly different types of professionals that Colorado courts rely on.

A CFI, or Child and Family Investigator, can be either a mental health professional or an attorney who is not otherwise involved in the case. The CFI can spend additional time getting to know the child and the family, as well as the child's surrounding circumstances. In the end, the CFI will give an informed opinion to the court on what sort of allocation of parental responsibilities would be in the child's best interest. The CFI's opinion is not binding on the court, but, not surprisingly, judges tend to give the opinion weight.

A Parental Responsibilities Evaluator, or PRE, must be a mental health professional. Like a CFI, the PRE will conduct an investigation into the family's circumstances. However, the investigation of a PRE may be more detailed and could even involve formal professional opinions about a parent's, or the child's, emotional state.

Either parent may request that a court appoint a CFI or PRE. In some cases, a court may even choose to do so without a parent requesting it. Usually, however, CFIs and PREs get involved when parents are having a hard time coming to an agreement about things like custody and parenting time.

An experienced family law attorney can help a Denver parent decide whether to ask for a CFI or PRE. If one of these independent professionals gets appointed, an attorney may also be helpful to a parent's efforts to cooperate with the independent professional.

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