If you are a parent, nothing is a higher priority than your child or children. If you are divorcing or already divorced, and if you believe that your child or children may be in danger in the presence of the other parent, speak at once with a Leadville family law attorney.

You can take several steps to protect your child if you believe that the child’s other parent poses a risk. Your lawyer can ask the court to order supervised visitations or to order the other parent to post a bond before any further visitations are allowed.

If you believe the other parent may take your child out of the country, your attorney may be able to have your child’s name entered in the State Department’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.

You also need to inform your child’s school or daycare provider about your concerns and have your child memorize your telephone number and home address. But if you believe that your child is in imminent physical danger, more drastic action may be required.

What Happens When Parental Rights Are Terminated?

With help from the right Colorado family law attorney, you can petition the courts in this state to revoke the other parent’s parental rights.

When the courts terminate an individual’s parental rights, that is the end of the parent-child relationship, and that individual is no longer legally a parent. If you’ll keep reading, you will learn exactly when and why the courts in Colorado may act to revoke a parent’s rights.

Several parties – the other parent, foster parents, or other relatives – may file a petition with a Colorado court to terminate someone’s parental rights.

What Do the Courts Require to Terminate Parental Rights?

Minor violations of a court-ordered custody arrangement – like returning a child late after a visitation, or making a late child support payment – usually aren’t enough to have parental rights terminated. Something more significant, like abandonment or abuse, must be demonstrated.

To order a termination of parental rights, the court must have persuasive evidence for one or more of these facts or claims:

1. The parent has abandoned the child and/or has consistently failed to provide any financial support for the child.

2. The parent is unfit because of a mental or emotional illness or deficiency – including drug and/or alcohol abuse – and is unlikely or unable to care for the child’s needs in a timely manner.

3. The parent has established a pattern of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or extreme cruelty to the child and/or others in the family.

4. The child has been seriously injured or disfigured by the parent’s action or neglect.

5. A sibling has been seriously injured or has died because of the parent’s action or neglect.

6. The parent has been sent to prison and is not eligible for parole for at least three years (if the child is less than six years old) or is not eligible for parole for at least six years (if the child is more than six years old).

7. The parent consistently has not attended visitations with the child as scheduled in the parenting plan and has no good reasons for those absences.

8. The parent is unfit and unlikely to become fit in a reasonable length of time.

When Does Federal Law Require Termination of Parental Rights?

Additionally, under the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, parental rights must be terminated when the court determines that:

1. A child has been abandoned.

2. A parent has committed a voluntary manslaughter or a murder of another of his or her children or has conspired, attempted, abetted, aided, or solicited that act.

3. The parent has committed a felony assault or felony battery that has caused serious bodily injury to the child or to another of his or her children.

What is a Colorado Family Court’s Top Priority?

Parental rights are fundamental in our legal system, and the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the fundamental nature of parental rights in a number of its decisions. In Troxel v. Granville (2000), the Supreme Court even upheld the right of parents to deny visitations to grandparents.

State courts, however, have consistently determined that a child’s safety and best interests are the highest concern. When a court in Colorado terminates a parent’s rights, the court’s priority is the child’s best interests and the child’s needs.

Can Parental Rights Be Reinstated?

Colorado is one of twenty-two states that allow the reinstatement of parental rights after those rights have been terminated. In these cases, the court will determine if a parent has made demonstrable progress in remedying the conditions that triggered the termination.

The court must also determine that the reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child. However, if a child has been adopted, the ability to regain terminated parental rights is extremely limited, and such cases are extremely rare.

What You Must Not Do

If you believe that your child is in danger and that the other parent’s rights should be terminated, do not try to take matters into your own hands. Do not stop paying child support, do not block visitations, and do not take the child out of the jurisdiction without permission from the court.

If you take any of these steps, you will be in violation of the court order that was issued at the time of your divorce regarding custody and visitations, and you could face legal penalties yourself. Instead, ask a Leadville family law attorney for the legal advice you need.

Your attorney may recommend asking the court for a modification of the court order that spells out the custody and visitation arrangement. You’ll have to demonstrate to the court why its court order should be changed.

When Should You Contact a Family Law Attorney?

However, if you have evidence that your child is in imminent danger in the presence of the other parent, your attorney can petition the court for the termination of that parent’s parental rights. If your parental rights are about to be terminated, you’re also going to need legal help.

While every Colorado parent should understand the law and the reasons why courts terminate parental rights, most parents have no worries, especially if they are not divorcing and if they haven’t committed any crimes.

However, if you need legal help regarding any matter that concerns your child – in Lake County or anywhere else in Colorado – that help is available, and you should obtain it at once. Having a good family law attorney’s guidance, insights, and advice is every parent’s right.