Once divorce has been filed and things begin to spiral, you may feel like you are losing control quickly; you are. Overwhelming, the need to feel protected may begin to drive your decision-making, as it should. My lawyer encouraged me to request a Child Custody Investigation (CCI). The first time you are encouraged to get a CCI it makes complete sense. Especially in my situation, where I knew that she was trying to move the children 2000 miles away. I knew that there was absolutely no evidence that I was a bad father, but getting the court ordered seal approval made sense, and I wanted absolute certainty that there was no chance that she could take them from me. Looking back at the effectiveness, my recommendation is to save your money; here is why.
Ordering a CCI is simple, but not cheap. Any court will accept a request that allows for it to make more money. The CCI will not be approved until you pay the fee. The fee for my CCI was $750. What I was not told is that is the starting price. If the investigator, who is a local divorce attorney, submits more billable hours, then you are responsible to pay for whatever she bills. You have no say and you get no notice. You get presented with a bill at the time of trial.
Terri Harris was assigned my CCI. She is about 70 years old and even colder. For the CCI I met at Terri’s office. I waited about 30 minutes past my scheduled appointment time, and then met with her for 10 or 15 minutes. During that time there was a short interview in which she basically asked me if I thought that the children’s mother was fit, and if I thought that I was a fit parent. We also set up a time for her to visit my home while the children were with me. During this time, the court had ordered that I got the children every weekend. This allowed her to charge me extra for weekend work. The day that she was scheduled to visit was relatively cool. I was living in a second story apartment, so my children and I had to wait for her outside to let her in, freezing our butts off. She was 35 minutes late. She walked into my apartment, stated “oh, these are nice”, asked my children if I fed them, and then left. She was there less than 5 minutes. Assuming that my ex-wife went through this same process that means that she “worked” a total of less than an hour.
According to her itemized bill, she spent over 4 hours reviewing her notes and writing a report to the court. The report consisted of 10 bullets. The good news was, none of the bullets spoke ill of me in any way, and they supported 50/50 equal parenting time. The bad news is that she charged another $750 for this service.
During the trial the judge mentioned the report only to notify me that I owed Terri another $750, and then he took my children away. That isn’t just corruption, it is outright theft. I have refused to pay the additional fee, and now Miss Harris has filed a motion to force the payment. I will fight it any way that I can. I will lose. She will somehow steal this money from me. I promise this though, whatever she steals from me will cost her 10 fold.
It is not an eloquent blog entry, but hopefully you got the point. As tempting as a CCI sounds, don’t get your hopes up. That money is better spent elsewhere. The only way that I could see a CCI serving your cause is if your ex is accusing you of something. If there have been no accusations, do not waste money on a CCI.