May 19, 2019

Three Chief Justice Directives Related to Family Law Amended

On Friday, January 1, 2016, three amended Chief Justice Directives were issued by the Colorado Supreme Court: CJD 04-06, regarding court appointments through the Office of the Child’s Representative (OCR), CJD 04-05, regarding payment of court-appointed attorney child representatives, and CJD 04-08, regarding court appointment of Child and Family Investigators (CFIs).

The changes to CJD 04-05 are due to legislation passed in 2015. HB 15-1153 transferred oversight of state-paid attorney CFIs from the Office of the Child’s Representative to the Office of the State Court Administrator, and CJD 04-05 was amended to reflect this change. CJD 04-06 was also amended to eliminate appointments of state-paid CFIs from the Office of the Child’s Representative, and to clarify GAL appointments in dependency and neglect cases, establish standards for GALs in delinquency proceedings and other cases, and require attorneys to submit a certificate of compliance with the CJD’s requirements to the OCR for all case types.

The changes to CJD 04-08 were significant. Judges who routinely appoint CFIs are encouraged to request a redline of the changes, given the volume of changes. State Judicial summarized some of the changes below:

• Regarding CFI oversight, SCAO will oversee all CFI appointments, with all state pay CFI appointments governed by CJD 04-05. OCR will have no involvement in CFI oversight or payment.
• Regarding expansion of CFI appointments, courts may expand a CFI appointment to a parental responsibility evaluation for an otherwise qualified appointee only upon written stipulation of the parties, approved by the court.
• Regarding the presumptive fee cap in private pay CFI cases, the cap increased from $2,000 to $2,750. This amount is a cap, not a flat fee.
• Regarding CFI complaints, complaints must be filed no later than one year following termination of the CFI appointment. No investigation will occur for complaints involving individuals not listed on the Statewide Roster. Regarding founded complaints, District Administrators will provide the complaint, investigation report and CFI report to regulatory agencies entitled to notice of the founded complaint, such as DORA and OARC, redacting the names, addresses and birthdates of the children and collateral witnesses, and with the redacted documents marked, “Confidential pursuant to CJD 04-08.” No complaint is required for a district to find a CFI no longer suitable for appointment and to remove the CFI from the district’s eligibility roster. When this occurs, the district must notify the SCAO of the reason for removal and SCAO will determine whether to remove the CFI from the Statewide Roster.
• Regarding Standard 2, CFIs must file JDF 1338, the Mandatory Disclosure form, to disclose the existence or nonexistence of a prior or current relationship.
• Regarding Standard 11, the “timely” filing of a report when the court has not specified a due date is defined as “at least 35 days before the trial or hearing.” Reports should not recite all information obtained during the investigation, but rather summarize legally relevant information.
• Regarding Standard 12, requests for CFI files must be written. Standard 12 now contains a default time frame for provision of the CFI file and adds a permissible rate for file duplication or scanning.
• Regarding Standard 13, CFIs shall not perform or require drug, alcohol, polygraph or other testing, inspection or evaluation unless specifically ordered by the court. Standard 13 now permits a qualified CFI to conduct drug and alcohol evaluation in addition to other CFI duties when specifically ordered. CFIs may conduct domestic violence screening if competent to do so.

For all of the Chief Justice Directives, click here.