When a child is endangered, Colorado law allows for the court to suspend unsupervised visitation between the child and the parent that is endangering the child. This is an important tool that has helped save the lives of countless children.
However, Colorado also penalizes people who make false allegations. If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger, please contact law enforcement. Then reach out to a Denver emergency child custody lawyer at Divorce Matters to discuss your case.
Defining Child Endangerment
A child must be endangered before a court will award emergency child custody. Under the law, endangerment can be either emotional or physical.
A judge will analyze many factors to determine whether endangerment exists, such as:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Psychotic breaks or mental health concerns
- Domestic violence
Other actions can exhibit extreme neglect which might also qualify as endangerment, such as:
- Leaving a child unsupervised for long periods of time
- Failing to pick up a child from daycare on multiple occasions
Requesting Emergency Child Custody
To start the process, you should file a motion in court. This motion must allege that the child is endangered under CRS 14-10-129(4) and include sufficient factual allegations to support the charge. A barebones accusation that a child is endangered is rarely adequate.
Once the motion is filed, a judge will order that all contact between the child and the parent be supervised by a mental health professional or some other third party who is unrelated. The court will also schedule a contested hearing within 14 days. At the hearing, each side can present evidence in the form of witness testimony or physical evidence. For example, you can have people testify who saw the other parent act violently toward your child.
After hearing evidence, the judge will decide what to do. Some options include:
- Deny the motion to restrict parenting time
- Continue the restrictions in place
- Put fewer restrictions on parenting time or more restrictions
Colorado law encourages children and parents to maintain contact, so judges hesitate before altering the custodial arrangements.
Penalties for Wrongful Accusations
If the accusation is groundless, vexatious, or frivolous, then the judge can punish the person who made the allegations. For this reason, it is vital to meet with an attorney before filing your motion. Some parents make unwarranted accusations of endangerment, simply to strike back at another parent, and judges in Colorado will not tolerate that.
Penalties can include having to pay the other side’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Remember that simply losing the contested hearing does not mean that you will automatically have to pay the other side. Sometimes, there is a good faith dispute about the other parent’s conduct and whether it rises to the level of endangerment. In any event, you should focus on protecting your kids and speak to a lawyer before filing a motion.
Contact Divorce Matters Today
If you fear your children are endangered, an attorney at Divorce Matters can help. We will run through your legal rights and assist you in seeking custody during this stressful time. We will also help you build up a strong factual base so that you are not accused of filing a groundless complaint. Contact our team to schedule an initial consultation.