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(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) A child and family investigator appointed by the court from an eligibility roster established pursuant to chief justice directive may be an attorney, a mental health professional, or any other individual with appropriate training and qualifications, as set forth in subsection (2)(f) of this section, and an independent perspective acceptable to the court. The child and family investigator for the court shall investigate and report 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 described in section 14-10-124. The purpose of the investigation is to assist in determining the best interests of the child, with the child’s safety always paramount.
(b) The child and family investigator shall make independent and informed recommendations to the court, in the form of a written report 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 best interests of the child, as described in section 14-10-124. The child’s wishes, if expressed, must be disclosed in the child and family investigator’s written report. The court shall consider the entirety of the report, as well as any testimony by the child and family investigator, the parties, and any other professionals, before adopting any recommendations made by the child and family investigator.
(c) The child and family investigator may be called to testify as a court-appointed expert witness regarding the child and family investigator’s reports, but only if the court finds that the child and family investigator has the appropriate training and qualifications set forth in subsection (2)(f) of this section. Recommendations should be considered in full context of the report.
(d) In addition to the training requirements and qualifications set forth in subsection (2)(f) of this section, 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 any licensing board that regulates the child and family investigator. A child and family investigator shall strive to engage in culturally informed and nondiscriminatory practices.
(e) A party wishing to file a complaint related to a person’s duties as a child and family investigator shall file such complaint in accordance with the applicable provisions in chief justice directives.
(f) The court shall not appoint a person from the eligibility registry to be a child and family investigator for a case pursuant to this section unless the court finds that the person is qualified as competent by training and experience in, at a minimum, domestic violence and its effects on children, adults, and families, child abuse, and child sexual abuse. The person’s training and experience must be provided by recognized sources with expertise in domestic violence and the traumatic effects of domestic violence. As of January 1, 2022, initial and ongoing training must include, at a minimum:
(I) Six initial hours of training on domestic violence, including coercive control, and its traumatic effects on children, adults, and families;
(II) Six initial hours of training on child abuse and child sexual abuse and its traumatic effects; and
(III) Four subsequent hours of training every two years on domestic violence, including coercive control, child abuse, and child sexual abuse, and the traumatic effects on children, adults, and families.
(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 must 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 are 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) For any person whose fingerprints are unclassifiable or when the results of a fingerprint-based criminal history record check of a person performed pursuant to this section reveal a record of arrest without a disposition, the department shall require that applicant to submit to a name-based criminal history record check, as defined in section 22-2-119.3(6)(d). Upon request of the department pursuant to this section, the Colorado bureau of investigation shall also provide a name-based criminal history record check for any person.
(c) The applicant shall pay the cost associated with the background check.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14. Domestic Matters § 14-10-116.5. Appointment in domestic relations cases--child and family investigator--disclosure--background check - last updated January 01, 2019 | https://codes.findlaw.com/co/title-14-domestic-matters/co-rev-st-sect-14-10-116-5/
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