My ex is keeping me from seeing my kids. I called the police and they won't do anything. What can I do?
Answer: If the police won’t do anything it may be because you do not have a court order in place specifying when you and the ex have parenting time. You should file a petition to establish parenting time immediately. If you do have a court order in place, you can file a motion for contempt against your ex if he is not complying with the court order.
I want to move with the kids to another state. Will I get in trouble if I take them with me?
Answer: Yes, you may. You will need to file a motion with the court asking permission to relocate with the children out of state.
If my ex is late on child support payments, can I prevent his or her visitation?
Answer: No. The court does not allow you to restrict parenting time based on child support. However, you may be able file a motion for contempt against the ex for not staying current on child support payments.
What is a child and family investigator? Do I have to have one to modify child support?
Answer: A child and family investigator, or “CFI,” is a lawyer or mental health professional appointed by the court to meet with your children, the parties, and sometimes family members, friends, and other people in your child’s life such as teachers in order to make a recommendation as to what parenting schedule is in the best interest of your children. In many cases, this is a good way to give your child a voice in the custody determination, because children are not allowed to testify in custody cases. Since many parents wish to modify parenting time based on the child’s expressed wishes, the child is free to tell the CFI what he or she wants in terms of custody, which can be taken into consideration in the CFI’s recommendation to the Court. Judges are reluctant to decide what is in the best interest of a child simply based on the conflicting testimony of the parents. Courts rely on CFI reports to give them an unbiased opinion as to what arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
If I have a medical marijuana card, how will that affect custody?
Answer: Courts in Colorado may restrict your parenting time based on the fact that you hold a medical marijuana card. If you are a medical marijuana user, you can be sure it will come up in a custody hearing and you will have a tough burden to prove that the marijuana use will not endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. As one judge put it, “There’s nothing in the medical marijuana law that deprives the court of its responsibility and legal authority to provide for proper care of children so that people aren’t caring for children who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” If you want to be on the safe side, you might look into other avenues of pain management.
At what age can my child decide which parent to live with?
Answer: Our legislature has not designated a certain age in which courts are bound by a child’s preference on where to live. Courts determine parenting time on the “best interests of the child standard”, which consists of approximately 11 factors the court considers, including, “the wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule.” In short, the Court looks at the child’s age and maturity. Since children are not allowed to testify as to their wishes in Court, the only way to present credible evidence as to the child’s wishes is to request a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”) be appointed.
My ex is living with his or her new partner. Can I modify custody based on this?
Answer: Maybe. If you have reason to believe the new living arrangement is harmful to the child, you may motion the court to modify parenting time. However, you will need to present better evidence than just your testimony that it is a bad situation.
My child says he wants to live with me primarily. Can I modify custody based on this?
Answer: Yes. However, since children are not allowed to testify as to their wishes in Court, the only way to present credible evidence as to the child’s wishes is to request a Child and Family Investigator (“CFI”) be appointed. Also, be mindful that children often tell both parents they want to live primarily with that parent in an effort to garner favor with that parent or make that parent feel special. As a result, parents who modify based on the child’s expressed wishes are sometimes surprised to learn the child stated a different preference to the appointed CFI. If you are going to file a motion based on the child’s expressed wishes, keep in mind this could happen to you.
The CFI report was biased toward the other side. What can I do now?
Answer: If you believe the CFI report was biased against you, you may be able to request the Court appoint a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator, or “PRE.” A PRE is like a CFI, but typically with a doctoral degree. The PRE can conduct psychological evaluations and may come up with a different conclusion than the CFI. PREs’ prices can run up to $10,000 or more, unlike CFIs’ prices, which are typically capped at $2,000. If you retain a PRE, there is no guarantee the ultimate recommendation will differ from the CFI’s. You may also be able to discredit the CFI’s report by producing evidence to support your belief that the CFI did not consider every angle or left out pertinent information.
My ex is not following our parenting plan. What can I do?
Answer: If your ex is violating the parenting plan, he or she may be in contempt of court. You can file a motion for contempt against the ex for the violation. However, be aware that if you file a motion for contempt and the Court believes your motion is frivolous (not supported by any credible evidence), you may be required to pay the ex’s attorney fees for having to defend against it. One other option is to file a motion to modify parenting time in order to request a new parenting time schedule that better fits with yours and the ex’s schedules or addresses the reasons for the violations.