This Code outlines goals that parenting investigators must aggressively and actively strive to achieve. It is not intended, however, to serve as a detailed investigative handbook, with specific statutory or other legal requirements. This Code of Conduct establishes principles of professional conduct and ethics aimed to ensure the proper performance of parenting investigators in North Dakota. Nothing in this Code absolves parenting investigators from the obligation to comply with requirements of the law or other rules of professional conduct that may apply to that individual.
When providing investigative services to the court, parenting investigators should act with care, reliability, and diligence. In phone calls, meetings, interviews, and other exchanges related to the investigation, parenting investigators should act in good faith and in a respectful and professional manner. All activities must be performed in a timely manner.
A parenting investigator shall complete all necessary training requirements according to Rule 8.6 of the North Dakota Rules of Court, including engaging in continuing education to further knowledge of parenting investigations.
The parenting investigator shall provide competent assistance to the court. This competence implies the legal knowledge and professional skills reasonably necessary to provide investigative services.
A parenting investigator shall preserve professional independence in the discharge of the investigator's duties. An investigator should act in accordance with the law, free from all other influence, rendering investigative services based upon the investigator's best knowledge. An investigator should avoid any impairment of independence and must not permit professional standards to be compromised by external pressure.
Reports, correspondence, and other documents prepared by parenting investigators should always reflect the highest quality work.
Truthfulness of Information
A parenting investigator shall not knowingly give false, misleading, or inconsistent information. An investigator shall not try to influence the court directly or indirectly by any ways and means contradictory to the law or this Code.
When providing investigative services, a parenting investigator shall adhere to the facts. Facts should be presented in as neutral and clear a manner as possible. The facts should speak for themselves, and conclusions and analysis should not involve exaggeration, adjectival assistance, or other editorial overemphasis.
Any and all actions must not be based on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth, political opinion, nationality, country of origin, or any other similar criteria.
Confidentiality and record maintenance are obligations of the parenting investigator. All parenting investigators shall maintain confidentiality and protect against unauthorized disclosure and usage of information acquired in connection with the investigation. Confidentiality is required for all forms of transmission: verbal, written, digital, manual or hardcopy records, videos, and pictures, etc.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest arises when a parenting investigator has competing, incompatible duties or when there is a conflict between a parenting investigator's private interests and the investigator's professional responsibilities. A parenting investigator must exercise independence, act with loyalty, and preserve the confidentiality of the case as necessary. The parenting investigator should avoid cases in which there is a conflict of interest. If in the course of providing parenting investigation services a conflict of interest arises, the parenting investigator is obligated to inform the parties and the court about the present conflict and the nature and extent of the conflict. After full disclosure, the parenting investigator may continue to investigate the matter with the express written consent of the parties only if this will not lead to an unjustified compromise of the parties' interests or to a violation of other provisions of this Code.
Communications with Judicial Officer
The parenting investigator shall not communicate with a judicial officer, without notice to all parties, concerning a case for which the person is serving as an investigator except that the investigator may communicate with a judicial officer about such matters as scheduling, emergencies, or purely administrative matters that do not deal with substantive matters or issues involved in the case.
Withdrawal of Services
The parenting investigator shall not withdraw services unless there is good cause. Good cause may include conflict of interest or inability to provide a competent, professional investigation. If the parenting investigator must withdraw services for good cause, the investigator should try to do so in such a manner that neither the parties' interests nor the best interests of the child are adversely affected.
The parenting investigator shall charge a reasonable fee for the investigator's services commensurate with experience and ability. The investigator shall provide an accounting for time on each investigation and shall make fees known to the parties in advance of the investigation.