If you have a relative who is a minor child involved in a Dependency & Neglect (“D&N”) proceeding in Colorado, you likely have a right to intervene in the action. Intervention means that an “outsider” becomes a party to the case and “is afforded the same degree of participation as all other parties.” A.M. v. A.C., 296 P. 3d 1026, 1033 (Colo. 2013).
D&N cases involve abuse or neglect of children. A D&N case is a civil case that does not involve the criminal prosecution of parents. Instead, parents who are involved in allegations of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of their children are held responsible for making positive changes in their families for the children’s best interests and safety. Children involved in a D&N case are placed under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.
Relatives, who are generally defined as being related by blood or adoption, have a right to intervene in D&N cases. This is true regardless of whether the child has ever lived with them. § 19-3-507(5)(a), C.R.S. (2014); In the Interest of O.C., 308 P.3d 1218 (Colo. 2013) (child's grandparents could intervene in dependency proceedings as matter of right, under statute providing that “[p]arents, grandparents, relatives, or foster parents who have the child in their care for more than three months who have information or knowledge concerning the care and protection of the child may intervene as a matter of right,” regardless of whether grandparents had child in their care for period of three months; rather, three-month custody requirement was limited to foster parents).
Once a relative has intervened, they may seek placement of a child and may, in some circumstances, be given preference for placement of a child. Practically speaking, the earlier in a case the relative seeks placement, the more likely that a relative will prevail in seeking placement.
Relatives with whom a child is placed also have a right to notice of all court hearings and reviews regarding the child in their care and have a right to be heard at such hearings and reviews. § 19-3-502(7), C.R.S. (2014). The right to be heard typically involves either making a statement to the presiding Judge or Magistrate or being called to testify as a witness.Please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis for all of your family law needs.