Can My Child be Included on the Restraining Order?
It can be difficult when you and your ex share custody of your child but you’ve filed for a restraining order. You want you and your child to be safe. A question our family law attorneys sometimes receive is: can I include my child on the restraining order? We’ll answer that question and provide additional details about restraining orders in Colorado.
You can typically only include your children on a domestic abuse restraining order when the child witnessed the abuse or were victims themselves.
What is a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders, also known in Colorado as civil protection orders, are orders to stop specific acts against everyone listed in the restraining order as a “protected person.” They require an alleged abuser, the “restrained person,” to avoid contact with the purported victim, the “protected person.” People who have been threatened, harassed, stalked, or abused by their partner can request a civil protection order from the court. You should know that harming or threatening your pet or animal can also be grounds for a civil protection order.
Domestic violence is unfortunately common, and many times the victim shares a child or children with their abuser. If this happens to you, you may want to get a civil protection order against your child’s other parent. But will the protection order also cover your children?
So, Can I Include Our Child on the Protection Order?
If you are in a situation involving domestic violence, a civil protection order can be a tool to protect yourself and your children. Children can be included on the order if:
- they were present for the abuse,
- they are victims of the abuse, or
- they have been directly impacted by the abuse.
Colorado courts are often willing to include the children on your temporary protection order.
This means the other parent would not be permitted to access, talk to, or be around you or your children.
After a period of time, the court will hold a permanent protection order hearing to determine whether the temporary protection order should be made permanent.
At this point, you will likely have to persuade the judge that a permanent protection order between the children and the other parent is appropriate. This is much more complicated than it sounds.
Parents have a constitutional right to parent their children. Therefore, essentially revoking a parent’s access to their child is not something the courts take lightly.
How a Mother Included Her Child on a Restraining Order
In 1986, a Jefferson County mother filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against her former husband. She asked the court to prohibit him from contacting her or their 14-year-old son.
At the temporary orders hearing, the mother presented evidence that the father suffered from “organic brain syndrome,” which can cause mood swings, irritability, and confusion. She outlined several incidents that had caused her to fear for her son’s safety as well as her own. Most recently, her ex-husband had made a comment threatening her son with physical violence.
The court granted the temporary order restraining the father from contacting his son or ex-wife.
At the permanent orders hearing, the judge found that “unless permanently restrained, the father was likely to cause harm to the mother and [Son].” Stuckey v. Stuckey, 768 P.2d 694, 695 (Colo. 1989) Therefore, the mother was granted a permanent restraining order prohibiting her ex from contacting her or their son.
The father appealed, claiming that the county court lacked jurisdiction to keep him from seeing his child.
The case made its way to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that:
“Turning to the facts of the present case, we conclude that the county court had jurisdiction to enjoin the father from contacting his minor son. The allegations in the mother’s verified motion for temporary restraining order that the father threatened violence to her and her minor child, and the evidence presented in the hearings on the appropriateness of injunctive relief supported a finding of domestic abuse as defined in section 14-4-101(2).” Stuckey v. Stuckey, 768 P.2d 694, 699 (Colo. 1989)
Has Domestic Abuse Affected Your Child?
If you’re trying to include your child on a restraining order, be prepared to go to court and explain to the judge how the domestic violence has detrimentally impacted your child.
If your child was not present for the abuse or was not a victim, it’s probably going to be more difficult to include them in your protection order. However, it is good practice to make sure you let your judicial officer know that there is a child involved and what their involvement has been.
Get Help to Obtain a Restraining Order
If you’re facing a similar situation to this, you absolutely need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. The R&H Family Law Team can help you navigate this and figure out the best course of action to protect you and your children. Call 303-688-0944 today to begin your free case assessment.