Child and Family Investigations and Parental Responsibility Evaluations: What To Expect

During divorce and child custody cases, the Court always puts the best interests of the child first. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on child custody, the Court will have to make a ruling so that the case can move forward. The Court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) to conduct an investigation and prepare a report for the Court. A CFI’s report is sometimes used to help determine the appropriate custody arrangement for the child. Use this guide on what to expect during a child custody investigation to help you prepare. 

What Are Child Custody Evaluations?

A judge can order a child custody evaluation to study how the child interacts with one or both parents in the home environment. In Colorado, the evaluator may be a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE), depending on the circumstances of your case.

The evaluator investigates the interactions between each parent and the child to determine whether joint or sole custody is best. Outcomes depend on what would be best for the child. If one parent appears negligent, they may be less likely to obtain custody since their behavior can create an unsafe environment for the child.

Prepare for Observation and Interviews

Being evaluated as a parent is understandably stressful, especially when your child’s custody is the outcome. The evaluator assigned to your case will watch how your child behaves in the home and how you interact. During observations, try to behave the way you would if it was only you and your child.

Interviews are another thing to expect during a child custody evaluation. The CFI or PRE will ask questions about your child and your relationship with them; sometimes, a PRE will provide you with a questionnaire at the start of your evaluation. The investigator will note your answers and their observations on how you interact with your child. They’ll also talk with your child’s teachers or other adults who are a part of your child’s life to gather as much information as possible.

They may also interview your child depending on their age. If your child is old enough, prepare them for the interview, but do not coach them on the answers you want them to provide. It’s best to work with a family custody lawyer so that you and your child can prepare for the interaction.

Pro Tip

While this may be an anxiety-inducing event, it’s always best to keep calm when talking with the evaluator. If you’re feeling nervous, take a few deep breaths to help keep your mind clear.

Custody evaluations often occur when divorcing parents cannot agree on custody or if the other party orders it. It’s always best to have an attorney at your side to increase the chance of achieving your ideal outcome for child custody. Jones Law Firm, PC, has spent over 20 years focused on family law in Denver, Colorado. Contact our team for a hands-on approach from lawyers who make your best interest their priority.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).