Colorado Springs Child Abduction
Parental child abduction is a very difficult event for all involved. Child abduction occurs when a parent takes a child in violation of a court order and without the consent of the other parent place. There are court remedies to assist in obtaining the safe return of the child. If there is no court order, taking a child is a law enforcement matter, which law enforcement may choose not to become involved in possibly regarding the matter as a parental dispute.
Law enforcement will not usually become involved in a parenting dispute, absent a court order defining each parent's time with the children. This is because either parent has the right to take a child to a different location absent a court order specifying which parent has the right to a specific time period with the child in what location. However, law enforcement can enforce a court order. Both federal and state law govern child abduction.
Colorado’s Child Prevention Abduction Act considers child abduction to involve the wrongful removal or retention of a child in violation of court-ordered parenting time. A common example of child abduction is removing a child from the state in violation of a custody order. In Colorado if a primary or shared-residential parent desires to relocate with the child after a court order is issued, that parent must have the consent of the other parent or the court.
If the other parent does not consent, then there will be a court proceeding where each parent can present evidence about what he or she believes is in the best interests of the child related to the move. Sometimes a parent agrees with the move but would like a different parenting schedule. Other times one parent does not want the children to relocate at all.
If a parent has evidence that another parent intends to remove the child from the state without consent and particularly in violation of a court order, it is possible to proactively file a Petition For Abduction Prevention Measures. The petitioner can ask the court to prevent the removal and the court has the authority to impose travel restrictions. A Court will expedite a child abduction matter if sufficient grounds are stated in the petition. These are obviously very time-sensitive situations and can be filed Ex Parte, meaning without notice to the other party. The Ex Parte filing is permitted so that a parent does not leave with the child due to notice of the proceeding.
The legal standard to warrant child abduction measures is a credible risk of abduction of the child. To determine whether a credible risk exists, a court will evaluate:
- Any history of previous abduction attempts
- Abduction threats
- Potential relocation actions such as leaving employment or selling a home
- Passport applications
- Collecting important documents for the child, such as the child’s birth certificate, academic, or medical records
- Domestic violence
- Refusal to follow an existing court order
- A lack of ties between the parent and the state or the United States
- Whether the parent has a strong connection with another country
- Whether a country to which a parent may take a child is a signatory of the Hague Convention
- Any use of alias names
If the court finds credible evidence at hearing that a child is in imminent risk of being wrongfully removed, the court can:
- Impose travel restrictions;
- Prohibit a parent from taking the children from school or childcare;
- Require passport surrender; or
- Require the location and return of the child.
Colorado Springs Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. We can guide you through the Colorado Springs court experience by handling pleading and motion preparation and filing, negotiation, mediation, and court proceedings from start to finish. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on trying to figure out how the overly complex court system works. Remember that change often creates new opportunity and a better future. Janko Family Law can help ensure that your best interests are protected. Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.