What Is Considered Parental Abandonment in Colorado?

Price Family Law
Denver Family Law Attorney

What Qualifies as Child Abandonment In Colorado?

Abandonment Is Life Altering

Parenting is never easy — and the definition of being a good parent or a bad parent is incredibly subjective. What works well for one family may be unwelcome or inappropriate for another. That said, most people agree that, at the very least, parenting requires the assumption of a basic level of responsibility (something specific in each situation).

Unfortunately, not all parents do what is right. There are so many stories of parents’ behaving inappropriately and not providing the care their children need.  Sadly, there are even more serious issues. More often than we would like to believe, some parents actually walk away from their roles completely,  leaving others to shoulder the full responsibilities of raising their children.

The factors that lead to a parent’s walking away, as well as the impact on the family, are unique in every situation. However, those impacted often have identical questions.

What is considered abandonment by a parent and how can I move forward?

Parental abandonment is a complex and serious issue, and quality legal representation when dealing with it can be especially valuable. The seasoned attorneys at Price Family Law, a family law firm headquartered in Denver, Colorado, can help determine whether parental abandonment has occurred and the best way to respond. They offer free consultations and can be reached at 720-615-1750.

Child Abandonment Is a Complicated Issue

Understanding the Legal Definition and Determining Its Implications

The term “abandonment” with regard to raising children is often casually used to describe a host of situations. While all are worthy of attention, they are not all the same. Some may offhandedly use the term to depict a temporary situation, like leaving a child in the park while they run to get a cup of coffee. Others use it to represent an ex, spouse, or partner whose participation in their child’s life is less than desirable (for example, when one parent does not pay their assigned child support in a timely fashion).  While situations like this impact a child’s well-being, have far-reaching implications, and should be addressed, they do not meet the legal definition of child abandonment that could affect custody.

However, when the legal definition of abandonment is met, serious actions may be taken.  Colorado Law defines abandonment as longer term or more uncertain. According to the law (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 19-3-604), a child would be considered abandoned if one of these two conditions exist:

  • HIs or her parent or parents have rescinded custody of their child and have not made arrangements for alternative custody or care for at least 6 months, or
  • One of the parents cannot be determined and reasonable efforts to identify them have been unsuccessful.

If you have found yourself in a situation like the ones described directly above, you may wish to take legal action to protect both yourself and your child as you move forward.  Take the time to contact an attorney that understands the nuances of family law in Colorado to learn more about what you can do.

The Impact of Child Abandonment

Taking Legal Action May Be Your Best Option

Without a doubt, child abandonment is difficult to manage; it can affect your family’s day-to-day life, financial well-being, and emotional health. In some cases, depending upon previously executed parenting agreements, it may be in your best interests to file for a child abandonment determination.

Deciding whether or not this is the right move for your family and embarking on the journey is a legal process best approached under the guidance of a family attorney. As the parent filing an abandonment suit, you bear the responsibility for proving your case. You would need to show that your child’s other parent has not participated in any visitation and has not called or attempted to contact your child for at least six months.

In cases like this, decisions by the courts are carefully rendered. The focus is always on the best interests of the child (which, in most cases, includes involvement by both parents).

Be advised, your word alone will not be sufficient. Your child’s other parent, the one accused of abandonment, will have the opportunity to respond to these charges.  If he or she is able to prove that they did spend time with their child and/or attempt to contact them, they will likely not be found guilty of abandonment.

This process is challenging and emotional. Compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation can help you handle it effectively and efficiently.

Abandonment Can Play a Role in Child Custody and Child Support

Should I seek to modify my custody agreement and possibly terminate the parental rights of my child’s other parent?  This question is one commonly raised; in certain instances, filing for abandonment may be important with regard to child custody. It is critical to remember that in Colorado, custody (or visitation/parenting time) refers to much more than with whom a child lives and for how long. It also includes playing a role in the minor child’s major life decisions regarding education, medical care, religion, and other significant matters. If you are considering modifying your custody agreement or terminating the parental rights of your child’s other parent, it is important to consult with an experienced child custody lawyer.

  • Education
  • Medical Care
  • Religion.

One does not have to have physical custody to still have input into these areas of life. In short, non-custodial parents have rights. For example, sometimes a parent needs to relocate a distance from their child. Thus, frequent visits may be impossible.  That said, they would still have input into the life of their child and would play an active role in making decisions regarding the areas listed above.

However, if a parent abandons their child, and it can be proven, changes could be made to their parenting agreement.

This may be accomplished by filing for the termination of parental rights in Colorado.

What Is Considered Parental Abandonment and What Can You Do?

Price Family Law Can Help Protect Your Family and Your Future

As a parent, it is not surprising that your primary concern is for the well-being of your child or children, and it is not unreasonable that you would expect the same from your child’s other parent. When that individual effectively disappears and leaves you without the support to which you are legally entitled, you have to make some very important choices.

Our team of seasoned family attorneys at Price Family Law understands the legal nuances surrounding issues of abandonment. We advise our clients on whether or not it is in their best interests (and those of their children) to take legal action.  In cases where it makes sense, we can guide them through the legal process, representing them as they move to best protect their families and plan for their futures. We know Colorado family law and have a reputation for providing our clients the highest quality service.

Additionally, we appreciate that this time in your life is particularly difficult.  Empathetic communication and kind interactions are the hallmark of how we operate. Our goal is to help you make decisions in the best interests of your family while minimizing the stressors common with abandonment proceedings.

The bottom line is this: We treat our clients as if they were family – with the utmost respect. Rest assured your questions will be answered in a timely fashion; all your concerns are valid.

Contact Us Today

If you are dealing with the issue of child abandonment, don’t hesitate.  The sooner we can begin work on your case, the better. While we strive to leverage our experience in this area, we know that no two cases are identical; our team takes the time to gain a complete understanding of what has happened and the impact on your life.

Reach out to us today at 720-615-1750 and schedule a free consultation.

During this meeting we can learn more about your specific situation and share what we believe to be the best course of action for you and your children.

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    Attorney Trista Price

    Trista McElhaney Price is a founding partner at Price Family Law, LLC. She specializes in high-asset divorce cases and legal matters involving complex business and financial issues as well as complex custody matters involving domestic violence, substance abuse issues, and mental health issues. Read Full Bio.