What Is a Motion to Restrict Parenting Time?
A motion to restrict parenting time brought under C.R.S. § 14-10-129 is an emergency motion asking the court to prohibit all unsupervised parenting time with the children by the other parent for 14 days. This is an extreme child custody measure and should not be taken lightly. To show that such a restriction is necessary, the parent moving for the restriction must show imminent physical or emotional danger to the children. The form for filing such a motion can be found where Colorado keeps its domestic relations forms, here. For reference, here is what the actual statute says:
Here is a quick summary of motions to restrict:
- A motion to restrict parenting time is an emergency motion that prohibits unsupervised parenting time with children by the other parent for 14 days.
- The parent requesting the restriction must show imminent physical or emotional danger to the children.
- If granted, the other parent’s parenting time is restricted immediately and can only occur under supervision by a third party.
- These motions should be used sparingly and only in extraordinary cases.
- The hearing for the motion must take place within 14 days of the restriction order, during which each side presents evidence and testimony.
- If the motion is granted, supervised/restricted parenting time may continue with possibly more or less restrictive terms, while if it is denied, parenting time returns to normal.
- Parties can agree to continue the hearing or settle the restriction during the 14-day period.
- A motion to restrict cannot be used as a weapon to disrupt a spouse’s life, and the moving party may be required to pay the defending party’s attorney fees and costs if the motion is deemed substantially frivolous, groundless, or vexatious.
- Seeking legal advice is recommended for both parties involved in a motion to restrict parenting time.
Read on for a more-detailed explanation:
What Happens Right Away
If the Court grants the restriction, the other parent’s parenting time will be immediately restricted, and they will only be able to see the children under supervision by a third party. These motions are reserved for instances of abuse, whether physical or emotional, as well as neglect and domestic violence. Because of the severity of the remedy (taking the person’s children away almost entirely for two weeks), these motions should be used sparingly and only when necessary. Colorado courts have described the balance between protecting the children and protecting each parent’s constitutional rights:
What Happens Within 14 Days
Under Colorado law, a motion to restrict hearing must take place within 14 days of the restriction order. C.R.S. § 14-10-129(4); see also In re Marriage of Slowinski, 199 P.3d 48 (Colo. App. 2008). Indeed, if the hearing does not take place within this period, “the automatic sanction of supervised visitation terminates.” See Slowinski. At the hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant or deny the motion.
During the 14-day period, the parties can agree to continue the hearing or settle the restriction. This typically involves a negotiation where the restricted party agrees to certain restrictions on their parenting time in exchange for the withdrawal of the motion itself. Depending on the circumstances, settling a motion to restrict may be in your best interest. However, in other circumstances, challenging it may be a better strategy.
My Spouse Filed a Baseless Motion to Restrict Against Me – What do I do?
Under the statute, a motion to restrict cannot be used as a weapon to attack and disrupt a spouse’s life. The law is intended to protect children, not to be used as a tool for spite. Because of that, the statute provides that a party moving to restrict parenting time without a proper basis is subject to paying the defending party’s attorney fees and costs:
If you feel that a baseless motion to restrict has been filed against you, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
The strategy in defending such an action is to get prepared as fast as possible, win the restriction hearing, and then ask for attorney fees and costs against the filing party. Be warned, however, that you will need an outstanding attorney to prepare and win a hearing like this on such short notice.
Learn more about the divorce process generally in Griffiths Law’s Colorado Guide to Divorce.