Custody in Colorado
Based on the Colorado Revised Statutes, the court takes the default view that both parents should have frequent contact with their child during and after a divorce. However, the court will move away from this standard when it's in the best interests of the child, especially if a parent presents an active physical or psychological danger. Among other factors, the court will look closely at whether a parent places the child's needs ahead of his own and the extent to which one parent encourages the other parent's relationship with the child. Note that an award of legal custody -- the right to make important decisions for the child -- may differ from physical custody -- where the child will primarily reside -- and an award of visitation rights, which is the right to spend time with the child. Thus, a parent without physical custody may still have visitation rights.
Blocking Visitation Rights
Once the court establishes visitation rights as part of the divorce decree, both parents are expected to abide by that decree. If the custodial parent wishes to modify the visitation schedule, he must petition the court for modification. Even a noncustodial parent's failure to follow the decree -- for instance, failure to pay child or spousal support -- does not justify the custodial parent withholding visitation rights. A parent may interfere with visitation by failing to deliver the child on time, taking the child out of town, or keeping the child from making unrestricted phone calls to the other parent. This sort of behavior is known as "custodial interference."
When one parent repeatedly blocks another parent's visitation rights during or after a divorce, the court may take this behavior as a sign he may be trying to damage the other parent's relationship with the child. In this case, the wronged parent may petition the court to hold the other parent in contempt of court for failure to follow the court's order. The court may decide to reduce or even remove a parent's visitation rights or award the wronged parent a payment of attorney fees. The state of Colorado may also charge the parent with custodial interference, which is a felony and may carry jail time.
Colorado law follows the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, which allows the court to impose, at its discretion, measures to prevent child abduction. In a divorce, this means the court has the power to restrict the noncustodial parent's ability to take a child out of a certain geographical area; order that all visitation time be supervised; or demand the noncustodial parent post a financial bond to ensure he will return the child.