By guest author, Kathryn Bright
Using a combination of intuition and training, the CFI will write their observations in a report which is filed with the court and provided to the parents and their attorneys. The report will contain recommendations concerning parental responsibilities, how major decisions will be made for the children once the divorce is final, where the children’s primary residence will be, and how much regular parenting time both parents will spend with the children. The CFI might also recommend individual therapy for the children or parents; family therapy; substance abuse monitoring; and/or parenting classes. In some situations where one parent has serious mental health, addiction or abuse issues, the CFI might recommend only supervised parenting time with that parent. The hardest decisions often include whether a parent may move out of state with the children, which inevitably limits the other parent’s regular contact with the children.
Often after reading a CFI report, the parties are able to reach agreements without further court involvement, which can save them time, money and further heartache. If the case must go to court, the judge can make a more informed decision with the assistance of a CFI’s report and testimony at the hearing.
The ultimate benefit of having a CFI appointed is the chance to turn the focus away from the “crime scene” and back onto the children. Once broken apart, “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” usually can’t put the family back together again, at least not as it was before. But, a CFI just might be able to help both parents discover useful, often more effective, ways to meet their children’s needs and best interests.