Can your teen get you in trouble for not complying with a Colorado Parenting Plan?
Maybe. In Colorado, there is no binding law that determines whether or not a teen is able to determine which parent they want to spend time with. This is a problem for many parents. When a Parenting Plan is in place, the adult may be held in contempt of court for the minor child refusing to see the other parent. At a contempt hearing, the accusing party has to prove to the court, otherwise known as the burden of proof, that a valid court order existed, that you had knowledge of the court order, that you had the ability to comply with said order and that you willfully violated the order. If they can prove these four elements, then you could be subject to punitive and remedial sanctions.
Other courts in the United States (that are not binding authority in Colorado) have determined that courts may not rely solely on the child's wishes; however, the child's wishes are a relevant consideration in the best interests of the child analysis. As long as there is no willful intent to keep the children away from the other parent, this court determined a minor child, who is on the cusp of adulthood, did not want to be forced to visit the other parent. Lind v. Lind, 2014 ND 70, 844 N.W.2d 907. Again, this is not the case in Colorado. While it seems like many judges have this opinion, they are not required to let the minor child make that decision.
So, the ultimate question is what do you do when your teens are running away, screaming and kicking to not get in the car? The best thing to do is to encourage them to spend time with the other parent. Remind them that it is healthy to have a relationship with both parents.
If you have any questions regarding communicating with your former spouse, creating or modifying your Parenting Plan or are being brought to court on contempt charges regarding your Parenting Plan, please contact the Domestic Team at Feldmann Nagel Margulis.