Determining how much parenting time each spouse will have with the children often becomes one of the most hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings. Colorado’s divorce statutes include provisions expressly addressing how courts enforce parenting time orders between divorcing parents in the event that one parent is depriving the other of their court ordered parenting time.
The statute allows an aggrieved parent to file a motion when the other parent has violated or failed to comply with the terms of a court-ordered parenting time arrangement. If the court finds that a parent deprived the other of his or her court ordered parenting time, it can issue orders imposing sanctions and/or remedies tailored to the specific circumstances of a parent’s noncompliance and in the child’s best interests.
If your co-parent is preventing you from exercising your court ordered parenting time, a Colorado family lawyer from Halligan LLC can help you understand your legal rights and the process for enforcing your parenting time. Contact us for a case evaluation to discuss your matter with a knowledgeable Colorado family law attorney and to learn more about how our firm can help you amicably resolve your parenting time dispute.
Resolving Parenting Time Disputes in Court
Under the Colorado statute governing enforcement of parenting time orders, a parent can file a verified motion with the court alleging that the other parent is failing to comply with a parenting time order. The court can also make its own motion if it receives information that leads the court to believe a parent is violating a parenting time order.
However, the court must have either issued a parenting time order or adopted a parenting time agreement between the parties in order to hear such a motion. If the parties have been working on an informal parenting time arrangement, this statute is inapplicable. Instead, the parents will have to move for a court order establishing a formal parenting time arrangement that can then be enforced. For that reason, parents are always advised to have any parenting time arrangement (and/or modifications to the same) in writing and approved under a formal court order so the court can enforce parenting time.
Once such a motion is filed the court must, within 35 days, determine whether there has been or will likely be substantial and continuing noncompliance with a parenting time order.
Actions Courts Can Take to Resolve Parenting Time Disputes
If the court receives evidence supporting a finding that a parent has violated a parenting time order, the court can either schedule a hearing on the motion or order the parties to first participate in mediation to try to resolve their parenting time dispute. If the parents reach an agreement in mediation, the court can either approve the agreement or schedule a further hearing on the results of the mediation.
If there is a hearing and the court determines a parent has deprived the other of court ordered parenting time, the court may issue an order imposing various consequences, sanctions, and restrictions in response to the parent’s violation of the parenting time order.
Potential Consequences of Violating Parenting Time Orders
A court can issue a variety of orders if it finds a parent has deprived the other of court ordered parenting time. Some of these may include:
- Imposing additional terms on the existing custody and parenting time orders, except that a court may not condition child support on the parenting time arrangement
- Modifying the terms of the existing parenting time order if the court finds that modification serves the child’s best interests
- Requiring a parent to attend a parental education program at their own expense
- Requiring the parties to participate in family counseling, with the costs to either be borne by both parents or by the parent whose noncompliance triggered the parenting time dispute
- Requiring a parent who violates the parenting time arrangement to post a bond or security that can be forfeited in the event of future noncompliance
- Awarding makeup parenting time to the aggrieved parent and child, provided the makeup time is of the same type and duration of time that was denied by the noncompliant parent and is made up within six months or one year of the court’s order
- Holding a noncompliant parent in contempt of court, potentially leading either to the imposition of fines or jail time
- Imposing a civil fine of up to $100 per specific incident of noncompliance with a parenting time order. This fine is paid to the state treasurer for the use of the state’s family law dispute resolution fund
- Holding a hearing to consider modification of the custody arrangement and parenting time schedule, upon a motion filed by the aggrieved parent
Mandatory Fee Shifting
It is extremely important to know that if the Court finds a parent has not complied with the court ordered parenting time schedule, the Court is required to order the non-compliant pay the aggrieved parent’s legal fees, court costs, and other expenses incurred in filing a motion to resolve the parenting time dispute.
However, a parent who files such a motion that leads to a determination that the other parent did not violate the parenting time order can also be ordered by the court to pay the legal fees, court costs, and other expenses to the alleged non-compliant parent.
Contact a Colorado Family Lawyer If You Have Questions about a Parenting Time Dispute
Contact a Colorado family law attorney at Halligan LLC for a consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. Call us at (720) 608-2361 or contact us on our website.