Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances arise that cause concern for children’s wellbeing. A Motion to Modify can take several months to resolve, which does not provide comfort if there is ongoing danger to the children. In these circumstances, Colorado law provides expedited procedures when children are in imminent danger. There are two types of harm that will trigger these procedures: (1) physical harm; and (2) emotional danger.
Physical harm is less common, though easier to prove through use of medical records, pictures, etc. Criminal charges, such as drug use, driving while under the influence, or sexual abuse, will also satisfy this requirement.
More commonly, a co-parent alleges emotional harm to the children, which is much more difficult to prove. Merely showing that the child does not want to go to the other parent’s home is not sufficient. This type of danger is typically shown through the use of expert testimony, such as from a therapist or school counselor. If the behavior is interfering with the child’s performance at school, the testimony of a teacher may also be sufficient.
The danger must be “imminent,” which means immediately. This means that conduct that happened four months ago (or even two months ago) will not result in a restriction. The exception to this is if the dangerous behavior is ongoing (i.e., a pattern of driving while under the influence).
Once the motion is filed, the judge will issue an initial order determining whether sufficient harm is alleged to justify a restriction. The judge will do this relatively quickly (usually within a day or two), without giving the responding parent a chance to file a response. If the motion is granted, a hearing must be set within 14 days. During that time, the responding parent can only have supervised parenting time.
Are you concerned about your children’s safety? Call me today to discuss your concerns.