Child Custody Modification Attorneys in Littleton and Denver, CO

In Colorado, child custody and visitation, or parenting time, is often guided by the best interests of the child. Situations can change, and parenting time be modified in response to those changes. It’s also viewed to be in the child’s best interest to see both parents regularly in most cases, so parenting time orders are also enforceable in situations where one parent is interfering with the other parent’s time with their child.

Parenting time modifications

What is best for your child will guide the modification process for custody and visitation. However, if the modification you want will change who the majority residential parent is, you will need to show a change in circumstances that calls for it or both parents will have to agree on it. For example, if the majority residential parent wants to relocate the child or the current the environment the child is in poses a risk to his or her safety, health or well-being, those would be qualifying reasons for asking for a modification. Note that unless your child is being endangered currently, you can’t ask to modify parenting time in a way that also changes the majority residential parent until at least two years have passed since a prior modification request was ruled on.

Enforcing parental rights

A parent has a right to his or her court-ordered time with his or her child. One parent can’t withhold a child from the other parent in order to punish him or her for not paying child support or doing something the withholding parent didn’t like. A parent who is being denied his or her court-ordered parenting time can call the police during the time she or he should have the child but doesn’t. However, this only applies if the parent does have a court order regarding custody or visitation, and even then, the police may decide it’s a domestic matter to be handled by family court.

Another remedy in this situation is having the other parent charged with contempt of court, since he or she isn’t following a court order. Paperwork and procedures must be completed to file this motion, so a parent seeking parenting time enforcement may wish to seek the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney can also help a parent who is being denied their time with their child to file a motion to enforce the existing parenting time order, and this route is often faster than a contempt filing. Other options include the court issuing a new order regarding parenting time if it finds that doing so is in the best interest in the child or sending both parents to mediation, during which a neutral third party will attempt to help them resolve their issues on their own. Although neither of the parents’ attorneys can act as a mediator, both parents can retain their own attorney for help and advice during the mediation process.

About changing legal custody

Decision-making custody, also known as parent responsibility, is the parent’s right to make major decisions for their child, such as decisions on education, religion and medical care. For this type of custody to be changed, you generally have to show that emotional or physical danger is a risk for the child if the existing custody isn’t changed. Without extreme circumstances, such as mental health or addiction issues, it can be a tough burden of proof to meet. However, if one parent has just given up his or her role in making decisions for the child, such as by being absent from the child’s life for a long period of time, the court may change legal custody.

The same applies if there has been some sort of change in parenting time that calls for the current order to be modified. For example, if a mother has full legal custody and a father just has visitation rights but the child is now going to be living with the father, it doesn’t make sense for the mother to have sole power when it comes to making decisions for the child. In that example, the court may grant both parents joint legal custody or give sole legal custody to the father if there is a compelling reason to do so.

When your child doesn’t want to go for visitation

One of the most common reasons for changing custody or modification is because a child no longer wants to go with their other parent. There is no set age in Colorado laws that states when a child can stop having visitation with a parent or can go live with the parent who doesn’t have residential custody. While the best interest standard and other legal standards still apply when a child is older, the wishes of the child do start to carry more weight with a judge when they are a teen as opposed to a younger child.

For help with child custody modification and enforcement, contact Miller & Steiert, P.C. and schedule an initial consultation today. Our attorneys have helped thousands of families in Colorado navigate through this difficult time.

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