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Is it Possible to Refuse a Court-Ordered Visitation in Colorado?


Child custody is a complicated matter in a divorce case in Colorado. Physical custody refers to the physical control of a child, while legal custody is the right to make important decisions. Child visitation, also known as parenting time, refers to a parent’s legal right to visit with his or her child. If your ex tries to refuse a court-ordered visitation, you have legal rights.

Visitation Rights Explained

A child custody arrangement is a parenting time schedule you must comply with after a divorce. A judge’s goal for child custody and visitation is to protect the child’s best interests. The courts operate under the belief that a child does best when he or she remains in contact with both parents. Therefore, except with an issue such as domestic violence or child abuse, most child custody agreements have shared or joint custody.

If one parent has primary custody, the other parent may have visitation rights. This is the right to visit with a child for a specific period of time, either with or without supervision. Visitation uses scheduled meetings that generally last for a few hours. The meeting may be supervised if the case involves issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse.

In general, it is against the law to refuse a court-ordered visitation in Colorado. Any type of court order in a family law case must be obeyed. Failing to comply with an order from a judge can lead to significant penalties, including fines, being held in contempt of court, jail time and even criminal charges. The penalties will be especially severe if the parent’s actions harmed the wellbeing of the child, such as in a parental kidnapping case.

What to Do If Your Spouse Is Refusing Visitation

If your ex-spouse is refusing to allow your child to come to a court-ordered visitation, he or she may be in violation of the law. The best way to handle this is to go to the family court and file an official complaint against your ex-spouse. Get in touch with your divorce attorney for assistance. You may be eligible for additional visitations to make up for the ones you missed. The courts may also offer other remedies, such as giving you a break with child support. In extreme cases, your ex-spouse may even lose custody.

However, if your spouse returned to the courts, presented a case for your visitation to be withdrawn and was granted the right to deny visitation, you may have no legal options against the custodial parent. Instead, you will need to work to remedy the issue and return to the courts at a later time to argue for the reinstatement of your visitation rights. The same is true if your spouse cited an emergency situation as a reason to withhold visitation, such as becoming aware of drug abuse or someone new living in your residence.

COVID-19 and Child Visitation

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a valid reason to refuse a court-ordered visitation in Colorado. The state courts have made it clear that a custodial parent must go through the correct legal processes to alter a court-ordered custody or visitation agreement during the pandemic. If your ex-spouse withheld visitation and cited COVID-19 as a reason, this does not excuse his or her lack of compliance with a court order. You will have the right to take your ex-spouse to court for violating your parenting time agreement.

When Is a Child Old Enough to Refuse Parenting Time?

Colorado’s custody laws state that a child may be able to refuse parenting time or a court-ordered visitation if he or she is old enough and mature enough to make this decision. This may occur at many different ages but typically starts at the age of 14. Older children, such as 16 or 17 years old, will generally have more say in parental visitation.

For more information about child visitation in Colorado, or for help with your ex-spouse’s refusal to uphold a parenting plan, contact an attorney today.

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