It’s a terrible feeling to realize that your child may not be safe with their other parent. You may be tempted to act rashly, but it is your level-headed approach to documenting evidence of child endangerment that you need in order to protect your child through an emergency motion hearing in Colorado. Your best plan of action is to get a court order limiting the parental rights of the harmful parent.
Don’t attempt to leave the area with your child, or refuse to return the child to the other parent. This can result in real legal trouble for you. If there’s an immediate danger, please contact law enforcement to file a police report. Then, consider filing an emergency motion for child custody with the professional help of a qualified family law attorney.
What Situations Qualify For an Emergency Motion For Custody?
In Colorado, a judge must be convinced the child is endangered either emotionally or physically before they will award emergency custody to the other parent through an emergency custody hearing. Here are a few examples of situations where endangerment exists:
- Domestic violence
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Severe mental health concerns
- Drug or alcohol abuse
The judge will consider the type of emergency, including physical and emotional endangerment. They will also take severe forms of neglect into consideration such as:
- Leaving the child unattended for long periods of time
- Failing to pick the child up from school or daycare on a consistent basis
- Neglecting basic needs including food and sanitation
How to File For Emergency Custody
To be awarded custody, you’ll have to file a motion in court. Depending on your jurisdiction in Colorado, there may be a Pro Se office or a court clerk who can help you file a motion on your own. However, since this is an important and timely matter, it may be best to consult the advice of an experienced lawyer who has gone through this before.
When you do file your emergency custody order, you must provide factual evidence that your child is endangered under the Colorado Revised Statutes regarding domestic violence (CRS 14-10-129).
These can include:
- Medical records
- Texts or emails from the other parent
- Communication with doctors, hospitals, schools, or daycare centers
An emergency motion case will usually be heard within 24 hours. If the judge agrees, they will grant the motion immediately. Once the court grants temporary custody, the other parent will only be able to see the child under the supervision of a neutral third party, possibly a licensed mental health professional.
After 14 days, the court will set the next hearing. The judge will listen to all evidence during the hearing. Then, they will make a final determination regarding custody and visitation. The final ruling may continue the current arrangement, add additional restrictions for the other parent, or remove some of those restrictions. In some cases, the court can deny the motion entirely.
Precautions to Consider Before Filing Your Emergency Motion for Child Custody
Be aware that judges are very hesitant to restrict or deny contact between a parent and child. Think carefully before you proceed. You don’t want it to appear as if you are motivated by a desire to punish or control the other parent. There have been cases where the court has penalized a parent for filing what they believed to be a groundless motion.
Before you pursue any legal action, speak with an attorney to get neutral feedback from someone who understands Colorado family law. Then, keep in mind that a situation that you find to be troubling may not be endangerment.
For example, the other parent may be more permissive than you are, or much more strict. They may allow a later curfew, or permit your child to view television shows that you disapprove of. It's also possible that they may socialize with people you think are a bad influence, or live a lifestyle that you find to be immoral. Sometimes, these things can justify a petition to modify parenting time or changes to a parenting agreement. They are not reasons to file an emergency order to remove the other parent's custody.
Every good parent wants to protect their child. You can file an emergency motion for custody to do so. Just be sure you follow the right procedures, present evidence, and seek legal advice. Contact a qualified family law attorney to get immediate help answering your questions!