Strategically helping Colorado clients through divorce & custody cases

Articles Posted in Visitation Parenting Time

Published on:

highway-1448970By: Jessica A. Saldin

It is not uncommon for people facing the end of a marriage or break-up of a relationship to contemplate moving out of state- either for a fresh start, to be nearer to family, or other reasons.  We often have people facing a divorce or custody case asking if they would get in trouble if they leave the state of Colorado with the child(ren).  In general, as long as there are no orders in place and they have not filed or been served with a divorce or custody case, there wouldn’t be any law preventing them from leaving Colorado.  However, that is not us saying we recommend people go ahead and leave.  If people leave the state with the children, and a case is then filed, the court has the authority to order the parent to bring the children right back to Colorado.  Additionally, the parent that left with the children is often viewed in a negative light with the court.  It can come across that the person left to try to “win” at the divorce or custody case and become the primary parent.  However, if there are provable issues of domestic violence and evidence that the parent left with the children for safety reasons, the court is not supposed to make a negative inference from the person’s departure (though they can still order the parent to bring the children back).

The better course of action (actually recommended by the court in a published court decision) is for the parent to remain in Colorado, with the children, and ask the court’s permission to move as part of the case.  In initial divorce and custody cases (before final custody orders are entered) a parent wanting to live out of the state of Colorado has special Constitutional protections.  As per a Colorado child custody decision, the court actually has to take each party where he or she intends to live and allocate custody accordingly.  Therefore, it is best to remain in Colorado until orders are entered by the court, rather than leaving prior to filing or being served and risk the court ordering you to bring the children back and starting off on the wrong foot with the court.  However, this does not apply to situations where you have written agreement from the other party to take the children out of state (email, text message, signed agreement, etc.) or where you are moving but the children will stay in the state of Colorado.  In those situations the court should not have an issue with you moving prior to orders being entered. Continue reading

Published on:

school-kids-1561890-300x194By:  Stephen J. Plog

While we’ve written about this subject before, it’s been a while.  From time to time, safety or endangerment issues can arise in a child custody case.   These types of issues can range from one parent having a drug or alcohol problem which limits their ability to safely parent, to a parent engaging in emotionally or physical abusive behaviors.  In instances in which these types of safety issues present an immediate risk to the children such that there are concerns regarding their safety with one of the parents during their court ordered parenting time, Colorado statute offers an emergency remedy in the form of a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-129(4).

Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-10-129(4), a motion to restrict parenting time can be filed if the children are in “imminent” physical or emotional danger.  “Imminent” means immediate and the court will be looking for acute and current concerns tied into the safety of the children.   Once a motion to restrict parenting time is filed, the parenting time for the accused parent ceases, unless supervised parenting time with a licensed mental health professional can be arranged.  In most cases, once the motion is filed, the court will do an initial review and will either enter an order upholding the statutory restrictions and requiring the setting of a hearing, or will deny the motion, usually based on a lack of information or allegations amounting to “imminent danger.”  If the motion is denied the process stops.  If the motion is granted, statute requires that a hearing be conducted within 14 days.   At that hearing, the party filing the motion will be expected to provide evidence supporting the raised allegations.

Published on:

By Michelle L. Searcy

As we approach the holiday season, people experience increased anxiety.  Between coordinating family events, preparing food, and spending money beyond the normal monthly budget, everyone feels the pressure of creating life-long memories for their loved ones.  After a divorce, this pressure increases as we hope to reassure our children that holiday celebrations will still be a source of joy.  Having a well-crafted holiday parenting time schedule in your parenting plan helps to avoid unnecessary conflict during the holidays.

As with all parenting time, the best interests of the child standard in section 14-10-124, C.R.S. applies to holiday parenting time.  Of the factors the Court uses to determine the best interests of the child, two are particularly important to the issue of holiday parenting time.  First, the ability to place the needs of the child ahead of your own.  Second, the ability to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact with the other parent.  Unfortunately, in over a decade practicing family law, I have witnessed good people become unreasonable when it comes to holidays. Continue reading

Published on:

If you have an existing child custody case in Colorado, are the primary residential custodian, and are considering relocating out of state with the minor child or children, you will need to seek permission from the court or written consent from the other parent.  Even a move from one city to another (for example, Fort Collins to Colorado Springs) could be considered a relocation as it can substantially change the geographical ties between the minor child and the other parent.  C.R.S. 14-10-129 governs modifications of parenting time.  Depending upon the nature of your current parenting time 0rder, there may be different ways to approach the relocation.

When dealing with a motion for relocation, there are several factors that the court will consider in addition to the best interests of the child (C.R.S. 14-10-124).  Those standards are set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-129 and can include:  Continue reading

Published on:

In our mobile society, it is not an uncommon occurrence for parents to obtain custody orders in one state, and for both parents and the children to later reside in other states, soon after.  This can make resolution of subsequent conflicts involving parenting time (visitation) complicated.

Every state in the country has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to address these parenting time or custody issues that involve multiple states, which gives parents and courts predictability as these multi-state issues arise.

Generally speaking, the UCCJEA provides a series of guidelines such that only one state can have subject matter jurisdiction or authority to determine custody orders at a time.  This is known as the “home state”, and it is usually determined by the state where a minor child has resided for the most recent six continuous months prior to the initial court custody filing.  Once a state assumes home state jurisdiction, that home state has exclusive home state jurisdiction to modify custody orders until such time as both parents and the children no longer reside in the home state, or because the home state becomes an inconvenient forum and gives up it’s exclusive jurisdiction.   Interstate jurisdictional authorization for a court to establish, modify, or enforce a child custody order differs, depending on the circumstances. Continue reading

Published on:

By: Jessica A. Bryant

There has been a recent push in Colorado by parents requesting a free range parenting law.  This type of law was recently passed in Utah (the first state to pass such a law).  The reasoning for such type of law is to provide some sort of clarity for parents that want to teach their children more independence without the risk of being charged with child abuse or neglect.  In Colorado, the child abuse/neglect laws are vague, which allows the Department of Human Services to exercise discretion in an investigation when deciding if something should be pursued as child abuse or neglect, or not.  For example, Colorado does not have a specific age as to when a child can be left home alone- it is simply judged on a reasonableness standard.  However, that same vagueness creates uncertainty for parents that want to allow their children freedom to exercise independence by walking home from school or riding their bike to the park, for example.  If passed, this type of law would have obvious effects on child abuse and neglect cases.  However, it could also have effects on Colorado divorce and custody cases.  Continue reading

Published on:

By:  Sarah T. McCain

When emergencies, such as when the emotional and/or physical safety of the children is at risk, people generally turn to the court, asking for immediate protections, the primary one of which is supervised parenting time. There are many options when it comes to supervised parenting time and, in many cases, the best and only option will be using a facility. Traditionally, courts will first look to supervised visitation being done at a parenting time supervision facility. There are positives and negatives to using such a facility. Supervisors in these facilities are neutral individuals who take notes of what transpires at the visitation sessions, from the initial interactions to the moment where the non-supervised parent comes to pick up the minor child(dren). This can be beneficial in circumstances when allegations are being made of inappropriate statements to the children or allegations that the children are hesitant to be in the presence of the supervised parent. This neutral supervisor can be on the look-out and address any of those concerns. The supervisor can provide written reports for evidentiary purposes and can testify if necessary. Supervision centers generally charge an hourly rate, sometimes on a sliding scale. Continue reading

Published on:

One provision many parents use when formulating a parenting plan is what is commonly known as a “Right of First Refusal.” Essentially what this provision requires of each parent is that when one parent is unable to exercise the parenting time that they have been awarded, that parent must contact the other parent to give the other parent the option of spending that time with the kids before the parent that is unable to exercise his or her parenting time can be allowed to make other arrangements for the care of the children (e.g.: relatives, babysitters, etc.).

Typically, the parties agree to have the provision apply for overnight parenting time. So, as an example, Mom gets called away on a business trip at the last minute that will keep her from watching her kids on the Monday and Tuesday overnight that week. With a right of first refusal provision, Mom would be required to contact Dad and ask him if he wanted those overnights. Only if Dad declines can Mom then contact a different caregiver to watch the children while she is away.  Though right of first refusal provisions are certainly still enforceable, subsequent to a 2007 Court of Appeals decision, it became much less common place for a court to order them absent an agreement between the parents. Continue reading

Published on:

By: Sarah T. McCain

 

I recently sat around a dinner table with a variety of women in different situations. The one item all shared was that their young children were going to be outside of the home for a period of time. The circumstances varied, ranging from a first sleepover to going to stay at dad’s house for the weekend. However, one item was consistent in that all of the women were deeply curious as to what would go on during this time away and what would be said. In child custody (parental responsibilities) cases, this become even more of an issue, especially when you have concerns that the child(ren) are not being cared for appropriately or when you have concerns that parental alienation may be taking place in the form of the child(ren) hearing negative statements about you or your  home. Continue reading

Published on:

Divorce and child custody cases can be emotionally traumatic events for an entire family, which can result in behaviors by parents that can affect children for a lifetime.  Family law courts in Colorado are cognizant of the lasting psychological scars a child custody case can leave on children, as well as the scars parents’ words and actions can have on them stemming from subtle or overt behaviors not even intended to damage the child by the parents.  One such behavior is the parentification of children (also known as “parentizing”), wherein a parent treats a child as an equal, confiding in a child with adult issues, using children for emotional support, and/or leaning on a child to assume a parental role for younger siblings.   In these cases, a parent might turn to the child to fulfill the parent’s emotional needs or sense of loss as a result of the marriage ending.   In other cases, a parent might burden the child with actual physical tasks, such as caring for that parent or siblings in on form or another.  In essence, the parent places adult emotional burdens and concepts onto the child. When parentification occurs, lines and boundaries get blurred and an enmeshment can exist which, though comforting to the parent seeking to soothe his or her emotional wounds, can negatively impact the child and his or her own identity and sense of self.   Continue reading