As part of your separation or divorce arrangement, or in cases when parents of a child never married, a parenting plan is created. The parenting plan is a written statement regarding the care and supervision of your child or children.
As per C.R.S. §14-10-124(a), parenting plans determine details concerning parenting time and take into account:
(I) The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time;
(II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
(III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
(IV) The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
(V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
(VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party's protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor;
(VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
(VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
(XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
What is Supervised Parenting Time?
A parent uncomfortable with his or her child spending time alone with the other parent can ask the court for the parent’s parenting time to be supervised by a neutral third party. There are also situations in which a judge will order parenting time be supervised. C.R.S. §14-10-124(1.5)(a) addresses the determination of parenting time as follows:
“The court, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, may make provisions for parenting time that the court finds are in the child's best interests unless the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time by the party would endanger the child's physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development. In addition to a finding that parenting time would endanger the child's physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development, in any order imposing or continuing a parenting time restriction the court shall enumerate the specific factual findings supporting the restriction.”
Supervised parenting time is common in instances when there has been domestic abuse, allegations of drug or alcohol abuse, or in any situation in which the child might be exposed to harm if left alone with his or her parent. However, according to C.R.S. §14-10-124, “The court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect that party's relationship to the child.”
Should You Request Supervised Visits for Your Child?
Proving to the court that supervised visits are necessary for your child’s safety can be a challenge. If abuse or neglect is part of an ongoing court case related to your marriage or child custody, asking for supervised visits is a good idea. According to C.R.S. §14-10-124(4)(e):
When the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that one of the parties has committed child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, in formulating or approving a parenting plan, the court shall consider conditions on parenting time that ensure the safety of the child and of the abused party. In addition to any provisions set forth in subsection (7) of this section that are appropriate, the parenting plan in these cases may include, but is not limited to, the following provisions:
(I) An order limiting contact between the parties to contact that the court deems is safe and that minimizes unnecessary communication between the parties;
(II) An order that requires the exchange of the child for parenting time to occur in a protected setting determined by the court;
(III) An order for supervised parenting time;
(IV) An order restricting overnight parenting time;
(V) An order that restricts the party who has committed domestic violence or child abuse or neglect from possessing or consuming alcohol or controlled substances during parenting time or for twenty-four hours prior to the commencement of parenting time;
(VI) An order directing that the address of the child or of any party remain confidential; and
(VII) An order that imposes any other condition on one or more parties that the court determines is necessary to protect the child, another party, or any other family or household member of a party.
Resources for Supervised Parenting Time
Colorado parents have access to multiple resources to support them in providing the best supervised parenting experience possible for both children and parents. The Karlis Family Center offers the Family Tree Parenting Time Program in an effort to provide a safe environment for children to spend time with their non-residential parent, and keep the child and victim parent safe, through supervised therapeutic visits, supervised visits, off-site visits, safe exchanges, and parenting after divorce classes. To learn more about the Parenting Time Program at the Karlis Family Center, contact (303) 462 1060.
The Central Visitation Program (CVP) provides an opportunity for children to visit with a parent in a safe, comfortable environment under trained supervision, a trained supervisor, a room for the visit, and some age-appropriate games and activities for the children. They also provide assistance with matching supervisors with families to provide some continuity for the families and offer exchange services for families. To learn more about CVP, contact (303) 839 8701.
As a parent, it is your natural instinct to do everything you can to protect your child. Unfortunately, what you assume is the best action could result in an unwanted outcome. Having the right legal advice makes it easier for you to make the best decisions and help your child cope with his or her unique circumstances.
If you would like to know more about supervised parenting time or you believe it might be appropriate to request supervised visits for your child, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at (303) 773 8100.