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Third Parties: Getting A Helping Hand

When it comes to legal matters, as you may be aware, things can get complicated. Sometimes, due to the issues involved in a case, it can be helpful to seek the assistance of a third party like Child and Family Investigators (“CFI”) or Parental Responsibility Evaluators (“PRE”). In domestic relations or family law matters, third parties are frequently called upon to assist the parties and the court. This article briefly reviews when a third party might be necessary and the types of roles that may be played by a third party.

When to Use Third Parties


When the court is called upon to decide about allocating parental responsibilities, it can sometimes be somewhat daunting. Because the court’s primary consideration is what will be in the best interests of the child(ren), having a significant amount of information is both valuable and crucial. However, the tendency of parents (especially those involved in hotly contested cases), is to advocate for their personal ideal situation. When it comes to a shouting match between parents, the court’s ability is stifled to make a well-informed decision about the best interests of the child(ren). Therefore, the court or the parties may seek the assistance of a third party to assess the circumstances of the parents and the children and eventually make recommendations.  


Parenting plans and parenting time, in theory, don’t seem like they would be so hard to follow. The realities of two people separating their lives, cutting ties, and moving on can be a complicated process. Sometimes, the break isn’t as swift or as clean as one might hope. This situation can be especially true when it comes to ex-partners working together as co-parents. If the parties refuse to implement the parenting schedule, or otherwise abide by the terms of a parenting plan, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a third party to manage conflict.

Roles of Third Parties

Child Family Investigator

CFI’s maybe tasked with investigating the parties, children, and other relevant sources of information. Once they have conducted an investigation, they will author a report including recommendations as to parental responsibilities.

Parental Responsibilities Evaluator

The PRE is very similar to the CFI in their process. However, some key distinctions include qualifications (PRE’s are qualified to make mental health assessments) and cost (PRE’s maybe capped on price). Much like a CFI, a PRE will also make recommendations and author a report as to their findings.

Parenting Coordinator

Parenting Coordinators are useful if parents find themselves failing to implement the provisions of a parenting plan effectively. A parenting coordinator can help struggling parties to get things on track and make the parenting plan work effectively.


Decision-makers are particularly helpful for situations with significant hatred or conflict. The decision-maker is granted the authority to implement or clarify existing court orders. Furthermore, they can make binding decisions. Therefore, they can assist the parties by providing a quasi-judicial service of handling disputes.

Final Thoughts

Seeking the assistance of a third party can be especially beneficial when it comes to handling cases involving children. Wherever you may find yourself in the legal process, it may be worth considering whether a third party might be able to assist. If you are unsure or have questions about your case, take the time to speak to an attorney. At Modern Family Law, we specialize in family law, and we have a wealth of knowledge regarding the use of third parties. Please call us today to speak with one of our attorneys at no cost to you.

Posted March 07, 2017
by: MFL Team

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