Divorce Laws on Blocking Contact With a Minor Child in Colorado

By Erika Johansen

Divorce law in Colorado doesn't take kindly to a parent who interferes with another parent's court-ordered visitation rights. Such interference may bring contempt charges and other severe penalties. If a parent wants to reduce the other parent's contact with her minor child, she must do so by petitioning the court. In Colorado, courts make all visitation decisions by looking at what is in the child's best interests.

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."

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Enforcing Visitation

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.

Preventing Abduction

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.

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Terminating Visitation Due to Incarceration

References

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New York Statute for Visitation

The best interests of the child is paramount in determinations of child custody in New York. To that end, it is preferable that parents reach a voluntary agreement instead of going to court. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, the court will make a determination as to both legal and physical custody, with the nonresidential parent generally provided visitation rights as part of sole custody orders. Further, the court may be petitioned when issues with visitation arise and the parents cannot agree.

Paternal Visitation & Custody Rights in Michigan

A Michigan father has custodial and visitation rights as awarded by the court. State law doesn't use gender as a factor in deciding custody of a child and a parent's visitation rights. Custody and visitation are awarded based on various factors, including what the court decides is best for the child. Once the court awards parenting time and custody, each parent must follow the court's orders and not interfere with the other parent's rights.

Who Has the Right to Custody During Noncustodial Visitation?

Custody trumps visitation. It is never changed or altered simply because a child is visiting with her non-custodial parent. The rights of a parent who has sole legal custody, sole physical custody or both remain intact until and unless a court modifies them by issuing a new custody order. Whether a child sleeps over at a friend’s house, her grandparent’s house or her non-custodial parent’s house, the custodial parent still has custody during those times, according to the terms of the court order. However, this does not mean the custodial parent always has unilateral control over everything involving her child.

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