(1) The court may, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, appoint a neutral third person to serve the court as a child and family investigator pursuant to subsection (2) of this section in a domestic relations proceeding that involves allocation of parental responsibilities. The court shall set forth the specific duties of the child and family investigator in a written order of appointment. The same person may not serve as both the legal representative of the child pursuant to section 14-10-116 and as the child and family investigator for the court pursuant to this section. Within seven days after the appointment, the appointed person shall comply with the disclosure provisions of subsection (2.5) of this section.
(2) A child and family investigator appointed by the court may be an attorney, a mental health professional, or any other individual with appropriate training, qualifications, and an independent perspective acceptable to the court. The child and family investigator for the court shall investigate, report, and make recommendations as specifically directed by the court in the appointment order, taking into consideration the relevant factors for determining the best interests of the child as specified in section 14-10-124 . The child and family investigator shall make independent and informed recommendations to the court, in the form of a written report filed with the court, unless otherwise ordered by the court. While the child and family investigator shall consider the wishes of the child, the child and family investigator need not adopt such wishes in making his or her recommendations to the court unless they serve the child's best interests as described in section 14-10-124 . The child's wishes, if expressed, shall be disclosed in the child and family investigator's written report. The child and family investigator may be called to testify as a witness regarding his or her recommendations. The child and family investigator shall comply with applicable provisions set forth in chief justice directives, and any other practice or ethical standards established by rule, statute, or licensing board that regulates the child and family investigator.
(2.5)(a) Within seven days after his or her appointment, the appointed person shall disclose to each party, attorneys of record, and the court any familial, financial, or social relationship that the appointed person has or has had with the child, either party, the attorneys of record, or the judicial officer and, if a relationship exists, the nature of the relationship.
(b) Based on the disclosure required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.5), the court may, in its discretion, terminate the appointment and appoint a different person in the proceedings. A party has seven days from the date of the disclosure to object to the appointment based upon information contained in the disclosure. If a party objects to the appointment, the court shall appoint a different person or confirm the appointment within seven days after the date of the party's objection. If no party timely objects to the appointment, then the appointment is deemed confirmed.
(3)(a) The court shall enter an order for costs, fees, and disbursements in favor of the child and family investigator appointed pursuant to subsection (1) of this section. The order shall be made against any or all of the parties; except that, if the responsible parties are determined to be indigent, the costs, fees, and disbursements shall be borne by the state.
(b) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, prior to the entry of a decree of dissolution or legal separation, the court shall not enter an order requiring the state to bear the costs, fees, or disbursements related to the appointment of a child and family investigator unless both parties are determined to be indigent after considering the combined income and assets of the parties.
(c) If the appointment of a child and family investigator occurs in a case involving unmarried parties, including those proceedings that occur after the entry of a decree for dissolution of marriage or of legal separation, the court shall make every reasonable effort to apportion costs between the parties in a manner that will minimize the costs, fees, and disbursements that shall be borne by the state.
(4)(a) Prior to being appointed as a child and family investigator, the person shall submit a complete set of his or her fingerprints to the judicial department for the purposes of a background check, and the judicial department shall determine based on the background check whether the person is suitable to act as a child and family investigator. The department shall forward such fingerprints to the Colorado bureau of investigation for the purpose of conducting a state and national fingerprint-based criminal history record check utilizing the records of the Colorado bureau of investigation and the federal bureau of investigation. The department is the authorized agency to receive information regarding the result of a national fingerprint-based criminal history record check.
(b) Upon request of the department, the Colorado bureau of investigation shall also provide a name-based criminal history record check for any person whose fingerprints are unclassifiable.
(c) The applicant shall pay the cost associated with the background check.
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