Frequently Asked Colorado Custody Questions Part 6
- As a stepmom, do I have any custody rights?
In general, the answer to this question would be “no.” However, there are instances in which a step parent may obtain rights to visitation or custody in Colorado. If a widow or widower remarries and the stepparent is part of the child’s such that the child ultimately comes to identify the stepparent as a parent, the law does allow for that person to potentially seek custodial or visitation rights based on the theory of being a “psychological parent.” This can also arise in instances in which the other biological parent is absent, for whatever reason, such that the stepparent assumes a parental role. If there is an existing case between the parent and the child’s other biological parent, it may be necessary to take action in that case. If there is no existing case, the issue of obtaining visitation or custody rights as a step parent would be raised in a divorce case or separate custody case.
- Can grandparents with visitation rights keep me in Colorado?
No. Though grandparents are able to seek grandparent visitation in cases involving the custody of a child, or as a new case if their child, one of the parents, is dead, grandparents cannot keep a parent in the state of Colorado should that parent seek to relocate elsewhere. Parents are afforded a fundamental, constitutional right to the care and control of their children. Case law, though allowing grandparent visitation, upholds this right as taking precedence. As such, parents in a grandparent visitation case are free to move. However, modification of the grandparent visitation schedule may need to be sought by either side, preferably prior to then move. With an out-of-state move, the issue of travel costs may also arise.
- Are the custody provisions in our will binding if we die?
No. As Denver custody and divorce attorneys, we are often asked questions related to wills or estates. Those types of matters generally fall under the heading of “probate” law. It is not uncommon for people to ask us about whether a provision in their will regarding custody will be binding on a court or others in the event of both parents’ deaths. A domestic relations court is not bound by a provision in a will. At the same time, that provision should certainly be used as evidence. Furthermore, if neither parent is living, an array of family members or other people would have rights to seek custody, properly termed “parental responsibilities,” for the surviving child. In determining custody, a court needs to assess the circumstances at hand at the time of the case as relates to the best interest of the child and cannot be bound by a document set forth potentially well before then.
- Will the police help me get my kids back?
From time to time, we see cases in which one parent or the other elects to just not return the children, despite court orders to the contrary. We also get inquiries from people wondering if the police will help them get their kids back from the other parent despite the fact that there is no case filed or no court order. Unless there are court orders regarding Colorado visitation and custody, each parent has an equal right to the children and there is nothing the police will do, absent, perhaps, an imminent and evident danger issue. When there are orders in place, the answer to this question varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A police officer or department in one Denver suburb might be willing to go to the door to talk to the parent in violation of orders to see if they can convince them to hand over the child. In other places, the common response might be “it’s a civil matter.” Again, it truly just depends and we have seen various outcomes throughout the Denver metropolitan area. Fortunately, there remedies that can be sought through the court to get specific orders directing law enforcement to assist in retrieval of the child. This can even include issuance of paperwork, called a warrant, authorizing law enforcement to enter a residence. Our attorneys can assist you in figuring out the most effective and efficient way to get your children back.
Main Custody FAQs