For parents going through a divorce, the most critical and painful part of the process is the custody arrangement. Because even the best of child custody agreements mean both parents won’t be spending as much time with their kids as before. This is emotionally challenging for both you and your children, especially a non-custodial parent, as you come to terms with the reality of the divorce. Unfortunately, the stress is aggravated by the complex child custody laws surrounding the rights and interests of children.
Since custody can be a complex family law issue, it’s imperative to take time to understand it yourself and also work with a reputable law firm, like Brighter Day℠ Law, that has extensive experience with child custody laws. Knowing the basics of what’s involved in custody arrangements will help a non-custodial parent understand their rights.
Does a Non-Custodial Parent Have to Visit His Child?
The non-custodial parent has a right to enjoy visitation with his children, which is as essential as the time the children spend with the custodial parent. The custodial parent can’t deprive the non-custodial parent of visitation by not producing the children more than a non-custodial parent can’t refuse to return the children after a weekend of visitation.
Either parent might be found in violation of the court order and might be found in contempt of court for not allowing court-ordered time with the other parent. Mothers and fathers are both treated the same with respect to court orders like this.
In fact, any custodial parent who fails to allow the non-custodial parent court-ordered visitation time may lose physical custody of the children. This is because the court often views deprivation of visitation as an attempt by the parent with sole custody to stifle the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent.
Family law courts recognize that healthy relationships with both parents are in the children’s best interests and often change child custody orders so that the parent who is more willing to allow the children a relationship with the other parent has more time with the children.
When Can you Deny Visitation to the Non-Custodial Parent?
You can deny the other parent their parent visitation rights because of the following reasons:
- They’re not paying child support;
- Because of alcohol or drug use;
- They have been arrested in the past because of child abuse
- Fear they may kidnap your child;
- Religious differences; and
- The child’s opinion, if he or she is old enough.
However, if there’s a valid court order in place, denying the other parent their visitation rights is illegal and can have serious legal ramifications.
In some jurisdictions, a custodial parent can legally deny visitation, if the noncustodial parent is likely to expose the child to immediate bodily harm or emotional trauma. However, before taking such steps, you must notify the authorities. This is only allowed in exceptional situations.
At What Age Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Colorado?
Custody arrangement terms govern how parents may see their children and how often. Even though these terms may be enforceable for a certain period, there may come a time when the child may prefer a different custody arrangement.
However, under Colorado law, there’s no statutory age when children get to decide on custody and visitation. Most family courts allow children more autonomy, starting at the age of 14. And when children turn 16 or 17, many Colorado family courts consider more closely the child’s wishes.
But there are some ambiguities in Colorado law, which result in court battles and legal wrangles when teenagers and child custody come to light. According to the C.R.S. 14-10-129, there must be substantial evidence to show that there’s emotional impairment or physical harm to the child’s development before any custody arrangements can be changed. Even though the child is 16 and they want to live with a specific parent, if the custodial parent poses no harm to their development, then the primary residential custody will remain.
What is Parental Kidnapping in Colorado?
Parental kidnapping is the most common type of child abduction. Parental kidnapping happens when the noncustodial parent takes the children without the custodial parent’s consent or knowledge.
According to Colorado laws, taking a child is kidnapping, even if the abductor is the child’s parent, especially if that parent doesn’t have custody or parenting time privileges. If a non-custodial parent unlawfully takes a child, the other parent has options available to ensure the child’s safe return.
A noncustodial with a court-ordered custody agreement must be very careful with what he or she does with the children. Thus, surprising the children at school, for instance, is a bad idea, especially if the custody arrangement order expressly forbids unsupervised parental visits. Also, picking the children up from school or church and taking them elsewhere–even for ice cream at a nearby ice cream store–without the other parent’s consent, is parental kidnapping.
One of the most common examples of parental kidnapping is removing a child from the state in violation of a custody order. Some parents may live in one state, but have a child custody order from a different state. This can complicate matters because state officials can only enforce orders within their state. Thus, if you moved to Colorado with a custody arrangement from another state, get a Colorado court order immediately. That way, law enforcement officers may get the children and return them to the other parent.
In Colorado, the custodial parent may move out of state with the children, without the other parent’s consent. So this isn’t parental kidnapping. However, the other parent can petition the court to prohibit the parent with legal custody from removing the children from the state. A judge will hold a hearing to decide whether to prevent the move or allow it to happen. Preventing the move may happen if the judge believes it’s in the child’s best interests.
Colorado is a unique state because in most states the custodial parent must petition the court to move out of the state. It’s essential to note that moving the children out of the state or taking them elsewhere isn’t parental kidnapping if the judge hasn’t issued a custody order. Also, if the parents never went to court and received an official custody arrangement, then it’s not parental kidnapping if one parent takes the children, even without the other parent’s consent or knowledge. Both parents have equal rights and responsibilities until the courts decide otherwise with an official custody order.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Springs Child Custody Attorney for Legal Advice Today!
A custody battle often results in a substantial emotional impact on you and your children. Our team of family attorneys in Colorado understand the importance of protecting your children during divorce and will passionately advocate for their best interests. The Colorado Springs family law lawyers at Brighter Day℠ Law will work with you and any guardian ad litem to determine the best custody arrangements and shared parenting time that is suitable for your children.
Although the end of a partnership can be extremely difficult for you and your family, it’s also a chance for a new beginning. Our legal team will fight for the most positive outcome for you and your children, to give you the best fresh start possible. Read our post about ‘Questions To Ask A Child Custody Lawyer.’