If you receive a summons for child custody in Colorado, you may feel a sense of panic or worry. This is especially true if your ex-spouse is petitioning for a significant change in visitation, child support, or custody arrangements without any forewarning.
Take a deep breath. The state of Colorado values the parent-child relationship and works to act in the best interest of the child in all decisions. Still, you cannot put the matters on drift and take no preparatory action before the court visits.
What Receiving Child Custody Court Summons Means For a Parent
A summons is a legal notification sent to a person to let them know that they are being sued.
In child custody cases, this means that the other parent has filed a request for modifying child custody arrangements or visitation. If the above was a mutual decision, you (the recipient) can waive the service of the summons. However, if the document lands at your doorstep out of the blue, you’ll have to take time to respond to it.
Afterward, you’ll need to bring the signed waiver to a local courthouse and receive further instructions from the clerk on your case. Depending on your circumstances, you may be asked to attend:
- The initial status conference — a preliminary meeting outside the courtroom where you’ll be read into the case. You can (and should) bring legal counsel at this point.
- Court hearings for modifying the existing child support orders or mediation.
Responding to the summons is the first step, launching the above processes.
How to Respond to Summons For Child Custody in Colorado
When you receive the summons, the first thing you’ll need to do is read all the information stated carefully. In particular, pay attention to:
- Where to file your response: This information will be listed at the top of the paperwork you received.
- What the petitioner wants: The document will list what the other parent is asking for in terms of allocation of parental responsibilities.
- Any mistakes or errors: You need to identify any information provided on the summons that is incorrect, not complete, or not reflective of the actual circumstances.
- Your objections: If you disagree with the petitioner, you will need to prepare a counter-argument that you will provide in your response.
Sample Response to a Summons for Child Custody
To respond to the summons, download the JDF1420 form from the Colorado court website.
First, check whether you agree the petition should be granted. Only check yes if you agree to the petitioner's request completely. If not, check no. Then use the spaces below to correct errors, and to tell the court the arrangement that would work for you.
Here’s an example of a child custody summons response:
The information in the Petition is incorrect. The following is the correct information: The petitioner states that I have refused to provide our child for weekend visitation. This is untrue. There are only two occasions where visitation did not occur. The first was when our child was ill. The second involved an out-of-town baseball tournament about which the petitioner was informed in advance, and extended an invitation to attend. Further, I have covered all transportation and transportation costs to facilitate visitation.
I request that the Court:
Maintain the current child custody arrangement. Order that transportation is handled by both parents with the petitioner driving ½ of the time, and myself driving the other ½. Modify the summer parental responsibilities allocation to give the petitioner an additional two weeks of time, and to prorate the child support schedule accordingly.
Find a Colorado Attorney To help
If you receive a summons for custody, don’t let an emotional response sabotage your position. Instead, gather your information and submit an accurate response. Also, remember that it is fully within your rights, and usually advisable, to get advice from a qualified Colorado family attorney before you craft your response. And even more so if the matters get more contested and move into the courtrooms. Contact the experts at Tolison & Williams today!