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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, which was first started in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There are millions of survivors of Domestic Violence, many of whom decide to protect themselves and their children by filing for divorce. 

Domestic Violence in Colorado is defined by C.R.S. 18-6-8003 as an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. The act or threatened act can also be committed against a person, animal, or other property when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.

Under C.R.S. § 14-10-124, a Colorado Court should take into consideration whether one of the spouses has perpetrated child abuse or domestic violence when making an allocation of parenting time. However, even if the Court finds that one spouse did commit child abuse or domestic violence, they may still award parenting time to that spouse. The Court will consider the nature of the abuse charges or allegations, the age of the charge or allegation, whether the perpetrating parent has sought counseling, the relationship between the perpetrating parent and the child, and other factors that may be relevant to determining what is in the Child(ren)’s best interests.

Generally, Colorado Courts find that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to have parenting time with both parents. This means that, except in unusual cases of very severe abuse, the perpetrating spouse is likely to have parenting time. However, this time may be restricted if it is in the child(ren)’s best interests. The Court may, for example, require that all parenting time with the perpetrating spouse be done at a licensed supervision facility which is skilled in handling these situations. The Court may also order counseling for the perpetrating parent, the child, or both to re-establish a relationship.

Colorado Courts don’t usually order parents to share decision-making authority when the abused parent objects. However, it is important to remember that credible evidence of abuse is only a factor in the Court’s decision when allocating parental responsibilities (which include parenting time and decision-making responsibilities). It is important that you have documented the abuse to show to the Court. Ideally you will have records from law enforcement from domestic violence calls. However, many domestic violence victims feel too afraid to call the police. In that event you may have medical records showing the injuries that were caused by the abuse. Similarly, reports from friends and family, neighbors, or anyone else who may have witnessed the abuse can help. The Court’s opinion in In Re Marriage of McCaulley-Elfert states that they will expect you to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it is more likely than not that the other party was abusive.

If you are the victim of Domestic Violence and need assistance, the experienced attorneys at Burnham Law are here to help. Burnham Law can help determine and pursue your best legal options, build a strong case, and set your case up for the best possible outcome. Additionally, the lawyers at Burnham Law are experienced at resolving related matters such as Emergency Protective Orders, Child Support Disputes, and Modification or Termination of child custody.

Burnham Law has offices in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.