In the vast majority of situations, the Colorado family courts prefer to arrange for shared custody between parents in a divorce. Sometimes, divorcing couples fight for shared custody out of a desire to punish one another. However, it is also possible to worry about shared custody because of the potential damage it could cause your children.
If your ex has been physically or emotionally abusive toward your children, you likely feel like their safety is your number one concern. Familiarizing yourself with your rights can help you advocate for your children in a divorce involving abuse.
You will likely need some kind of evidence in court
The courts don't want to endanger your children, but they can't make custody determinations based on accusations by one spouse. There needs to be some amount of corroborating evidence for claims of abuse to influence how the courts rule in your case.
Phone calls to the police made by you, concerned family members or your neighbors could provide and authoritative record of domestic violence. So too could any medical records reflecting injuries that you or the children suffered at the hands of your ex.
If you don't have any kind of official record, you may have to rely on less formal records. Documentation such as pictures from your mobile phone showing bruises or entries in your journal discussing abusive events over the course of many months could also help sway the courts.
Do you need a divorce or a protection order?
No matter how dire the circumstances, the Colorado family courts cannot grant a divorce without due process. If you feel that you or your children are in immediate danger due to the volatility or violence of your ex, you may need to consider seeking a protection order. Colorado protection orders provide you with some legal protection against harassing, abusive or threatening behavior on the part of your ex.
These orders typically require that the person accused of abusive behavior not visit your home or workplace. It may also specifically prevent your ex from contacting you via mobile phone or email. If your ex violated the terms of the order, you can call police and have them arrested. It may be possible that the courts will still allow some visitation despite a protective order. In that scenario, it would likely be an arrangement involving supervision by a state social worker, likely in a safe facility.
Leaving an abusive marriage can be a frightening but empowering experience. For many people leaving abuse behind, the first steps are the hardest to take. Sitting down to talk with an experienced Colorado family law attorney can help you develop a strategy to protect your children and move on from your abusive marriage.