If you've lost custody of your child, you may feel hopeless. In truth, there are things you can do to change your situation. Here, we'll discuss Colorado custody laws, in particular: what it means to lose custody and steps you can take to get custody of your child back.
What Does Lost Custody Mean
When the courts remove custody from a parent, it’s a painful decision for all involved. The reasons for losing custody can vary:
- Substance abuse issues
- Inability to provide a stable home environment
- Living with a partner who the courts deemed to be unsafe
- Behavior that indicated you were incapable of controlling anger issues
- Failure to comply with court-ordered treatment or parenting classes
- Voluntarily surrendering custody
- Your child’s other parent was more capable of meeting the child’s needs at the time
When people use the term, ‘losing custody’, they can mean several different things. For example, you may say that you’ve lost custody if the courts have determined your child should reside with the other parent full-time and that your visitation will be limited. Another parent may mean that they have lost parental rights, and their child has been placed outside of their home.
Whatever your situation is, you should know that it may be possible to win back custody. Colorado has a process in place that allows parental rights to be reinstated. Below, you will find a general explanation of this process.
Understand and Accept The Court’s Custody Decision
If a court has already removed custody, you should do two things. First, get the advice of a Colorado family lawyer. They will help you to understand the court’s decision, and provide guidance for moving forward.
Next, you'll need to accept the court's findings. Even if you disagree with them, it's essential to understand that to regain custody, you'll need to address the reasons you lost custody in the first place. Examples include:
- Taking parenting classes
- Attending treatment for substance abuse
- Removing anyone from your home that the courts have deemed unsafe
- Making repairs to your home so that it is habitable
- Attending counseling sessions
In any case, there are always people who will be willing to help you identify the right solution and make amendments. These include your lawyer, a custody evaluator, and in some cases, social services workers. Proactively collaborate with them.
Work Cooperatively With Your Ex or Child’s Guardian
You may feel angry or resentful towards your child’s other parent, or any other person the courts have made your child’s legal guardian. Don’t let this influence your behavior or interactions with them. If you believe you have a legitimate complaint, make that through the proper channels. Your family lawyer can advise you here as well. Otherwise, be cordial, share information about your child, come to any scheduled visitation, and make it clear that you want to work together.
Obey Court Orders
You can help your lawyer help you by obeying any court orders. Don't attempt to see your child when you aren't authorized. Attend any classes required of your, or counseling sessions. If ordered, pay child support. If you still have visitation rights, cooperate with any orders for supervision. Return your child on time, and show up on time.
If you do these things, your lawyer will be in a much better position to file a petition to modify custody. The key to getting the custody of your child back, is demonstrating that you have your child's best interests as your priority and that you have taken action to fix any issues that prevent you from being an effective and safe parent.