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Fort Collins Child Endangerment Lawyer

Colorado offers a method for immediate relief when a child is at imminent risk of physical or emotional harm by a parent or guardian. These methods are child emergency and child endangerment. State courts can act immediately to suspend all unsupervised contact between the child and the parent who is allegedly putting the child at risk. The court can place the child under emergency child custody with a legal guardian. If you believe your child is in imminent danger of physical or emotional abuse in Colorado, always call law enforcement first.

You then can choose to contact and hire our Fort Collins child endangerment lawyer, who can explain emergency child custody, as well as other issues related to endangerment. Contact The Cossitt Law Firm to discuss your concerns today. Understand that serious penalties are possible when one parent makes false allegations against the other parent.

The Process for a Child Endangerment Charge

Child endangerment actions start by filing a motion to restrict the parenting time or parental contact between one parent and the child. The party bringing the motion must allege that the “child is in imminent physical or emotional danger due to the parenting time or contact by the parent” (C.R.S. 14-10-129(4)). In addition, the motion must contain the facts and evidence leading to this allegation. Upon considering the motion, the court may order that any contact between the child and the parent named in the allegations requires supervision by someone the court deems suitable. The supervisor could be an unrelated third party or a mental health professional.

The court must conduct a hearing on the endangerment motion within 14 days of filing. Consequently, any parenting time that takes place requires supervision at least until the hearing finishes. This hearing is the first opportunity for the restricted parent to explain his or her position to the court. At the hearing, both sides present their evidence in support of their positions. If, after completion of the hearing, the judge finds that the child is in danger, the judge may continue the restriction on parenting time. The court must explain specifically the factual findings in support of its decision to continue the restriction.

Let Our Child Endangerment Attorney in Colorado Help With Your Case

Colorado has a very strong and longstanding policy of maintaining contact between both parents and the child. Therefore, a denial of free and unfettered contact between one parent and the child prior to a hearing requires a strong set of facts that show a parent is putting the child at immediate risk of harm. In matters of endangerment, the court makes the decision to restrict contact based on the allegations from the party bringing the motion. The court receives no input from the restricted parent until the hearing. In other words, deprivation of contact with the child for one parent occurs based upon the allegations of endangerment that the other parent made alone. The denial of free, unsupervised contact is one of the primary reasons why these hearings receive a quick resolution. The court does not want to wrongly deprive a parent of seeing the child any more than it wants to leave a child at risk.

Endangerment actions try to balance the safety of the child with the interests of parents. Most courts will err on the side of caution to protect the child in the face of allegations of endangerment, rather than leave the child at risk of harm. Our Fort Collins child endangerment lawyer will build a case based on the facts of the scenario and represent your rights.

Turn to Our Fort Collins Child Endangerment Lawyer for Legal Guidance

If you feel the other parent or your significant other is endangering your child, our Fort Collins child endangerment lawyer will work with you during this difficult time. We will also work with you if you feel you suffered a wrongful accusation of child endangerment. Contact us today to discuss your case. The Cossitt Law Firm helps clients in Larimer, Weld, and surrounding counties.

Common Questions for Our Child Endangerment Lawyer

One you choose to hire our Fort Collins child endangerment lawyer to represent you, rest assured that we will be available to answer your questions at any time. We know, however, that some potential clients have common questions regarding a child endangerment charge before they meet with us. Here are some of the most common questions our child endangerment attorney hears from clients.

If the courts find that the situation fits the child endangerment meaning, it is possible that custody arrangements may change. Colorado courts take all allegations of child endangerment seriously. If the court believes one parent’s behavior toward the children leaves them in danger mentally or physically, the courts will be willing to hear arguments from our child custody modification attorney about changing the agreement.

The official child endangerment meaning takes on many different forms. However, it typically fits into one of two categories: emotional or physical endangerment. Courts look to a number of indicators to determine whether a child is in danger through the actions or behaviors of a parent, guardian, or significant other involved with the child’s care. Some indicators of endangerment can include a parent’s drug or alcohol abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse; mental health concerns, psychotic breaks, and hospitalizations; and violence or domestic violence, particularly if the child witnesses it. Some other examples of child endangerment include failing to pick up a child at daycare or school on multiple occasions; leaving small children without supervision; and using the wrong car seat for a child’s age and size.

After your child spends time with your ex-spouse, you may notice some odd behavior from the child. You may suspect something happened during the visit that left your child feeling vulnerable, but you may not have specific evidence. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, some signs of endangerment include:

  • Signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Physical signs, such as unexplained bruises or lack of personal grooming
  • Arriving with dirty or soiled clothing
  • Child acting withdrawn or sad
  • Child missing school, music lessons, or doctor appointments during the visitation without legitimate reasons
  • Child telling stories of being left alone.

Being left home alone without supervision could be a sign of child endangerment on the part of your ex-spouse. The state of Colorado does not have a specific age limit regarding when children can legally care for themselves, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services. Ultimately, the parent caring for the child must ensure his or her well-being until the child reaches legal adulthood. If the parent chooses to leave the child at home alone, and something happens to place the child in danger, the parent is responsible. If you believe your ex-spouse is behaving negligently in leaving the child alone, the courts may feel as though the this is not in the best interests of the child, which could affect child custody hearings and results.

If the child neglect and endangerment rises to a serious level, you may be able to ask the courts to terminate the parental rights for your ex-spouse. This is not an easy decision to win, as Colorado courts focus on trying to give both parents equal time with the child as much as possible. However, if you can show that your ex-spouse abandoned the child during his or her custody time, committed neglect that led to physical injury for the child, or committed some sort of abuse against the child, any of these situations could lead to a termination of parental rights. Our child custody lawyer is ready to help you prove your allegations in this extremely serious type of case.

What Is the Penalty for Child Endangerment in Colorado?

If you believe your child is in danger, it can be helpful to know what penalties can result for someone who is convicted of crimes related to child endangerment and abuse. While our attorneys practice family law and can provide legal guidance in family matters, when charges are brought that involve abuse, that becomes a criminal, not a civil, case.

Depending on the circumstances in the case, courts in Colorado often will use the same penalties that fit under the state’s child abuse laws (C.R.S. 18-6-401) when considering a child endangerment situation. Some of the possible penalties for a conviction on child endangerment in Colorado are:

  • In Case of Death: Should a child die because of abuse or endangerment in Colorado, the guilty party could receive a charge of a class 2 felony. This could result in up to 45 years in prison as well as a fine of at least $5,000.
  • In Case of Serious Bodily Injury: If a child suffers a significant physical injury because of endangerment, the negligent party could receive a class 3 felony charge. This type of felony could result in up to 24 years in prison as well as a fine of at least $3,000.
  • Minor injury: For a case where a child suffers a minor injury, the responsible party could receive a charge of a class 1 misdemeanor. After a conviction on this charge, the negligent party could receive a jail sentence of up to two years as well as a fine of at least $500.
  • No injury: If the person responsible for the child endangerment did not cause an injury for the child, he or she could receive a charge of a class 2 misdemeanor. This penalty could result in jail time of up to one year and a fine of at least $250.

Penalty for Wrongly Accusing a Parent of Child Endangerment

The court takes allegations of child endangerment very seriously, but the court takes false allegations just as seriously. Courts will penalize anyone bringing such a motion that is “frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious.” When the court finds that one parent lied in making allegations of endangerment to try to harm the other parent’s relationship with the child, the court will require the party that lied to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the other party (C.R.S. 14-10-129(5)). The court recognizes that the party on the wrong end of the false allegations went through this process needlessly and suffered from limited contact with the child, resulting in unfair treatment. By punishing the parent who lied, the court tries to help the falsely accused parent.

Not All False Child Endangerment Allegations Result in Penalties

Keep in mind that a child endangerment action that is unsuccessful is not automatically “frivolous, substantially groundless, or substantially vexatious.” The court understands that unintended mistakes sometimes occur or that one parent may misinterpret a harmless situation as child endangerment. If a true danger to the child exists, it is important for the parent to feel comfortable about filing the allegations, rather than worrying about any potential penalty if the court finds that endangerment did not occur.

Ultimately, the court says one parent cannot purposefully set out to harass or create problems for the other parent by making false allegations of child endangerment. Depriving a parent of access to and contact with the child is a court’s last resort. The court wants to take this step only through a genuine desire to prevent a child from endangerment based on valid allegations backed up with facts.

Contact The Cossitt Law Firm Today

When facing a situation that may involve child endangerment actions from an ex-spouse, our team is ready to help you. We take any allegations of child endangerment very seriously. We know how endangerment can quickly escalate to physical abuse that results in significant injuries or to mental abuse that can leave the child suffering and doubting his or her safety well into the future.

We take the time to listen to your concerns about the behaviors of your ex-spouse when it comes to caring for the children. It is important to fully understand what is happening. Sometimes, the children may share stories about what life is like at your ex-spouse’s home that lead you to believe endangerment is happening. However, when we investigate further, we learn that the child was exaggerating a harmless situation. It’s important to back up any allegations of child endangerment or neglect with evidence to ensure the child is as safe as possible.

Our Fort Collins Child Endangerment Lawyer Will Place Your Child’s Well-Being at the Forefront of Our Work

We always fight as hard as we can for the child’s well-being in potential child endangerment cases like this. We will represent you and your child to the best of our ability in your case. Call The Cossitt Law Firm as soon as possible for a discussion about your possible child endangerment case.

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