Colorado courts make all decisions in the best interests of the children. For family court in Colorado, the presumption is that a continued meaningful relationship and frequent close contact with both parents is in a child’s best interests. Most custody agreements in Colorado support this presumption. However, the court also understands that situations change and new information sometimes comes to light. If the court finds sufficient evidence to believe that one parent is endangering a child’s physical or emotional well-being, they can order an emergency motion to suspend that parent’s visitation rights.
A motion to temporarily restrict a parent’s court-ordered parenting time prohibits that parent’s unsupervised visitation with their children for 14 days until the restricted parent appears in court to defend themselves, and the parent who sought the motion to suspend visitation can present their evidence.
What Evidence Do I Need to Suspend My Ex-Spouse’s Visitation Rights?
Colorado judges demand specifics from a spouse requesting an emergency motion to suspend visitation. The petition the requesting parent must fill out for the judge asks for a detailed explanation as to why the parent feels their child is in imminent danger when left in the unsupervised custody of the other parent. The parent must be specific and add only factual information on their petition rather than using broad, non-specific terms like “I believe my child is in imminent danger in my ex-spouse’s custody.”
A court requires tangible evidence that the children face a serious danger to their physical or emotional health while in the other parent’s custody. Examples of negligence or abuse that warrant the suspension of a parent’s visitation include:
- Serious drug or alcohol abuse in the presence of the child
- Driving under the influence of substances with children in the vehicle
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Verbal or emotional abuse
- Unsafe storage of firearms
- Child neglect such as leaving small children home alone or failing to provide basic care like feeding a child, changing soiled diapers, and providing a safe living environment
A judge may require evidence such as photos, police reports, therapist evaluations, eyewitness testimony, or reports from child protective services to approve a request for temporary suspension of parenting time. Emergency motions to suspend visitation are issued sparingly by Colorado courts and only with sufficient evidence.
Consequences of an Emergency Motion to Suspend Visitation
After one parent requests an emergency motion to suspend the other parent’s court-ordered parenting time, the court reviews the allegations. If they find the request credible, they put the emergency suspension in place and set a hearing date within 14 days. During that time, the other parent may be allowed only supervised visitation with the children in the presence of a neutral third party or a licensed mental health professional. In some cases, visitation is completely suspended since 14 days doesn’t give the court time to vet acceptable third-party supervisors.
At the hearing, both sides may present their arguments and evidence. If the court finds cause to continue the suspension of the visitation, they may issue permanent changes to the child custody order, such as for supervised visitation only. On the other hand, if they find the accusation without merit, the judge could order the accusing parent to pay attorney’s fees and court costs.