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Know the Laws: Colorado

UPDATED September 18, 2017

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After a parental responsibilities order is in place

back to topIf an allocation of parental responsibilities order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

Because allocation of parental responsibilities is decided based on what is in the best interest of the child, an order can generally be changed.  If you have an allocation of parental responsibilities order already in place, you can petition the court to modify (change) it and a judge may do so if the modification would serve the best interests of the child.*

Generally, the judge will not change an order concerning parenting time that substantially changes the parenting time as well as changes the party with whom the child lives a majority of the time unless:

  • there are new facts that have come up since the prior order that the judge did not know about;
  • a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or the party with whom the child lives the majority of the time; and
  • the modification is necessary to serve the best interests of the child.*1
Evidence of abuse, a criminal conviction for certain crimes (even if committed in another state or jurisdiction), or domestic violence will most likely be considered a new fact or change in circumstance.*2  To read more about CO’s modification law, including information about filing to relocate to another state with your child, go to our CO Statutes page.

If you believe that your child is in immediate physical or emotional danger because of the other parent’s contact or parenting time with the child, you may file a motion to restrict his/her parenting time or contact with the child.  The judge will hold a hearing to decide your motion within 7 days.  During those 7 days, any parenting time that the other parent has with your child must be supervised by an unrelated third party who has been approved by the judge.*3  Note: If the judge finds that your motion to restrict parenting time was frivolous, groundless or intended only to annoy the other parent harm, the judge will order you to pay the other parent’s attorney fees and costs.*4

To modify an allocation of parental responsibilities order, you will generally need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved.  Generally, once a court has jurisdiction, that court will keep jurisdiction, even if you move to another state.  If you have moved, you can ask the court to change the jurisdiction to the new state that you are in.  This is often complicated, and as with all allocation of parental responsibilities issues, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this.  Go to the CO Finding a Lawyer page to find someone who can help you.

* C.R.S. § 14-10-129(1)(a)(I); see generally, C.R.S. § 14-10-129
*1 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(2)
*2 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(3)
*3 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(4)
*4 C.R.S. § 14-10-129(5)

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back to topWhat can I do if the other parent violates the order?

If the other parent violates the order, you can file a motion for contempt.  The judge can set the matter down for a hearing or order the parents to go to mediation and report back to the court.  The judge can then approve an agreement reached by the parents or set the matter for hearing.*

Upon completing the hearing, if the judge finds that a parent has violated the court order, the judge should issue one or more of the following orders:

  • An order making additional terms and conditions that are consistent with the prior order;
  • An order modifying the previous order to meet the best interests of the child;
  • An order requiring either or both parent(s) to attend a parental education program to be paid for by the parent who violated the order;
  • An order requiring the parties to participate in family counseling to be paid for by the parent who violated the order;
  • An order requiring the parent who violated the order to post bond (place money with the court) to ensure that s/he will follow the order in the future;
  • An order requiring that makeup parenting time be provided to the parent who was denied time at a time that works for him/her;
  • An order finding the parent who did not comply with the parenting time schedule in contempt of court and imposing a fine or jail sentence and/or a civil fine of up to $100 per incident of denied parenting time;
  • An order scheduling a hearing for modification of the existing order concerning custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities; or
  • Any other order that may promote the best interests of the child or children involved.**

Also, if the judge determines that a parent did violate the order, s/he will have to pay the other party’s attorney's fees, court costs, and expenses that are associated with bringing the contempt motion.  If the parent accused of violating the order is found by the judge to have not violated the other, the parent who filed may have to pay the accused parent’s legal fees.***

* C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(1)
** C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(2)
*** C.R.S. § 14-10-129.5(4)

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the Colorado Legal Services for their help in reviewing a prior version of this material.

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