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Can I file contempt for first right of refusal?

Denver, CO |

There is a first right of refusal in our parenting plan. I knew my ex was leaving our child with her grandparents when she was younger but did not have any proof. Now that my child is older she has told me that she spends the night with her grandparents (her grandparents also watch her after school so she has plenty of time with them). Since I called her mother out of it now I get emais late at night that she is spending the night at her grandparents house at the child's request. Is this contempt? What can I do?

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Attorney answers 3


You can file a contempt motion but you may have a problem proving your case because a child's out of court statements are, with a few exceptions, inadmissible. Contempt actions are not very easy to maneuver through the legal system an I recommend that you hire a lawyer to assist you. It may be possible that there are other solutions to consider.


Any non-compliance with a court order is contempt. You can file a Verified Motion & Affidavit for Citation for Contempt of Court. The forms and instructions can be found online at the Colorado State Judicial Branch website (see link). You will need to state the facts of the contempt and also provide a copy of the order that gives you first right of refusal.


Yes, you can file contempt. It is not a simple process, however, and can be frustrating as the Court will often do little more than restate their prior orders if this is the first time it has been brought up before the Court. Often contempt has to be pursued several times before the judge reaches the point of imposing serious sanctions.

Another option, if you can show that this is happening regularly, is to file for modificaiton of parenting time. The purpose of the first right of refusal is to allow the child to spend time with you when the other parent is unavailable. If this is a regular occurance, perhaps the parenting time orders should be revisited.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

David Littman

David Littman


In addition to the suggestions of my colleagues, you can file a motion to enforce parenting time. A right of first refusal creates a right to parenting time and imposes a duty on that parent to advise the other parent, depending on the specifics of the wording of the right. Consult with one of us as to how to best proceed and good luck to you.

Stephen Clark Harkess

Stephen Clark Harkess


Mr. Littman makes a very good point. It may be possible through a motion to enforce to convince the Court to award you make-up parenting time for time you missed due to the other party's failure to adhere to the first right of refusal order.

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