What Can I Do If My Child’s Parent Engages In Dangerous Activity?

December 18, 2022

Dangerous Activity

As your child’s parents, you and your ex play two of the most important roles in your child’s life. This can be a good thing, but it can also be traumatic and harmful if your child is exposed to dangerous activities. If your child’s parent engages in a dangerous activity, a family law attorney with Johnson Law Group can explain your legal options. Consider contacting us at (720) 445-4444 to determine which path to take to protect your child.

Types of Child Custody in Colorado

Colorado law does not use the term “child custody.” Instead, it uses the term “parental responsibility,” which means the time that your child physically spends with each parent and “decision-making,” which is the right to make important decisions that affect your child. Either form of custody can be joint or primary.

Factors Courts Consider in Child Custody in Colorado

Colorado law requires family courts to consider what is in the child’s best interest when making decisions regarding parental responsibility. The courts do this by weighing all relevant factors, which may include:

  • The parent's wishes
  • The parent's ability to place the child’s needs above their own interests
  • The child’s wishes if the child is mature enough to express a reasonable basis for this preference
  • The child’s relationship with both parents, their siblings, and any other person who may significantly impact the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
  • The child’s and parent's mental and physical health
  • The parent's ability to encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent
  • How close the parents’ residences are to each other
  • The parents’ past pattern of involvement with the child, including whether it reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support

Dangerous Parent Activities

There are various dangerous activities that a parent may engage in that could put their child in danger, including:

Criminal Behavior

Under C.R.S. 14-10-129, a parent or guardian can object to parenting time with a parent who has been convicted of any of the following crimes:

  • Murder in the first or second degree
  • Sexual assault
  • Unlawful sexual contact
  • Sexual assault on a child
  • Enticement of a child
  • Keeping a place of child prostitution
  • Incest or aggravated incest
  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Soliciting for child prostitution
  • Procurement of a child for sexual exploitation
  • Human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude
  • Pandering of a child
  • Procurement of a child
  • Pimping of a child
  • Inducement of child prostitution
  • Patronizing a prostituted child
  • Child abuse

Drug or Alcohol Abuse

A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol could also pose a risk to the safety of a child in their care. These offenses will have an even greater impact on the allocation of parenting time if the child is involved, such as a parent receiving a DUI or being found in possession of drugs when their child is present.

Domestic Abuse

Under C.R.S. 14-10-123.4, children have the right to live in and visit homes that are free of domestic violence, child abuse, and child neglect. The law also provides for a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has committed an act of domestic violence against the other should not have joint decision-making power. Being subject to or witnessing domestic abuse can be damaging to a child. Therefore, the court may scrutinize any case that involves such allegations.

These are just a few of the possible dangerous activities that a parent may be engaged in. If you are worried about your child’s health and safety, there are legal remedies available.

Signs Your Child Might Be Exposed to Dangerous Parental Behavior

The Child Welfare Information Gateway explains common signs your child may be endangered including:

  • Your child is malnourished or dehydrated
  • There are physical signs, such as unexplained bruises
  • Hygiene problems are present, such as a lack of personal grooming or arriving with dirty clothing
  • Your child acts withdrawn or sad
  • Your child tells stories of being left alone
  • Your child has excessive absences or tardiness at school
  • Your child misses medical appointments without legitimate reasons

Sometimes, a child who is being neglected or abused may mimic some of their parent’s dangerous activities, such as:

  • Exhibiting violence toward others
  • Displaying cruelty to others or animals
  • Threatening or intimidating others
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol

Legal Options If Your Child’s Parent Behaves in Dangerous Activity

If your child’s parent behaves in a dangerous activity, you may have different options available to you, depending on where you are at in the custody case.

Object to Parenting Time

If the other parent is currently seeking parenting time, you can object to the court.

Seek a Modification

You can ask the court to modify the parenting time order. For example, if your ex was convicted of a violent crime, you could seek to ask the court to terminate the other parent’s parenting time rights or ask for their time with your child to be suspended or supervised. To pursue this remedy, you would need to prove the parent’s behavior poses a risk to your child’s safety to justify a significant modification to their parenting time.

File an Emergency Petition

If your child is currently residing with the other parent or currently has access to your child that could pose a risk to their safety, you can file a motion to restrict parenting time or parental contact. This is an emergency order and is based on showing your child is in immediate physical or emotional danger because of the other parent. Your petition must contain sufficient facts and evidence to justify its filing. The court is required to conduct an emergency hearing within 14 days of the filing of the petition. Any parenting time that occurs in the interim with the alleged dangerous parent must be supervised.

Contact an Experienced Colorado Family Lawyer for Help with Your Case

If you are concerned about your child’s well-being because your child’s parent engages in a dangerous activity, consider contacting an experienced Colorado family lawyer. A lawyer can investigate your claims, gather evidence, and help fight for your desired outcome. You can reach Johnson Law Group by calling (720) 445-4444 and requesting a confidential consultation.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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