Colorado Family Law on Domestic Violence

The family law courts in Colorado recognize that domestic violence affects both separating spouses and children. The law seeks to protect the kids and adults from further abuse. Colorado law explicitly states children have the right to live and visit homes that are free of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect. As a result, divorce and child custody cases, among other family law actions, have some special rules, policies, and exceptions when domestic violence occurred in the family.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders During Divorce

In Colorado, an automatic temporary injunction keeping both parties to a divorce from “molesting or disturbing the peace of the other party,” as well as restraining the spouses from disposing of marital property or stealing away the kids. However, this may not be enough to keep an abuser in line. If you’re a survivor of domestic violence during your relationship and are concerned about what your former spouse or partner will do, you may want to apply for a domestic violence protection order. The procedures would be the same as for any other person who experienced intimate partner abuse, under Colorado Statutes Title 13, Article 14: Civil Protection Orders. For more information, see the Colorado Protection Order article.

Child Custody and Domestic Violence

Colorado, like many states, bases child custody determinations on the "best interests of the child" standard. This means the court has to consider many different factors about a child, what the child is familiar with, and the ability and desire of both parents to provide for the child. Domestic violence is also a factor that needs to be considered.

Colorado Domestic Violence Laws

The following table details the Colorado family laws related to domestic violence.

Code Sections

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 14: Domestic Matters

Disclosure of Protection Orders During Divorce and Child Custody Cases

When requesting a dissolution of marriage (AKA divorce) or legal separation from the court, the party must tell the court of any existing temporary or permanent civil domestic violence protection orders, any criminal protection orders, and any emergency protection orders entered against either party in the last two years. The court will advise the divorcing parties of any domestic violence services or financial resources that may be available for them and any children, when appropriate.

If parents are in a proceeding to determine child custody, the same disclosures about domestic violence-related protection orders must be made. Again, the court will refer families to domestic violence services when needed.
How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody? Colorado legislators understand that children living in homes with domestic violence are at a greater risk of emotional, psychological, and physical home. Therefore, they created laws about how to allocation parental responsibilities when there’s domestic violence involved.

Parenting time with a child depends on many different factors, including any the parents’ and child’s wishes, the child’s adjustment to schools and neighborhoods, and any child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault (if child is a result of the rape, the rapist has no rights to the child). If either parent proves, by a preponderance of the evidence or more likely than not, that the other parent abused them or the kids, it can affect the court’s child custody decision.

In addition, if a parent fled a domestic violence situation, either taking the child from the abuser or leaving the child with the abuser temporarily, the removal or abandonment won’t be considered negatively against that parent, assuming it was necessary for safety.
Where Can I Get Help? If someone, including your spouse, is abusing you, please seek help. In an emergency, always call 911. When you're safe, call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for safety planning tips and referrals for shelter, support group, and other services in your area.

For legal help with a divorce or child custody case or to get a protection order, you should speak with an experienced Colorado family law attorney.

Note: State laws change regularly, so it's important to verify the laws you're researching.

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