My soon to be ex wife and I separated when my daughter was only 2 months old. When we separated there was a lot of hostility and anger between the two of us. I was very depressed and angry and made the poor decision to just leave her and my daughter alone. It has now been 4 1/2 years and I haven't seen or supported (physically or financially) my daughter at all. I am very ashamed and have realized everyday that I continue this is making the issue worse and worse. My wife and I never got divorced. I currently live about 75 miles away from my wife, but want to start having a relationship with my daughter. What would I need to do in the eyes of the law to obtain some kind of visitation or rights?
You need to file for dissolution of marriage if you wish to end the marital relationship. You might start by reaching out to your soon to be ex wife and asking her forgiveness for not supporting her and your child. You then need to be prepared to involve a mental health professional to help your daughter get ready to have a relationship with you. You will also need some coaching about the right things to say to your daughter. There are several "go to" mental health professionals in the Denver Metro area who can be of service. The key to a successful outcome is the mother's willingness to believe that you will now be consistent and involved. If you undertake to enter your daughter's life, you need to be certain that this is not just some passing activity and that you will be in this for the long run. It would be devastating for the child to get to know you and then have to go away. I recommend that you discuss this thoroughly with a skilled family law attorney and make certain that this is something you are committed to. Good luck to you.
You need to make sure that you have addressed your issues and are prepared to be a positive influence on your daughter's life. You need to expect that you may have to start with limited and possibly supervised visitation to start. You have not had any contact for almost all of your daughter's life and it will take time for you to become part of her life. Over time, however, you can become an important and positive part of your child's life if you really want to.
You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or info@Harkess-Salter.com. 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.
General Practice Lawyer
I agree with each of my colleagues and would like to add some thoughts.
You are doing the right thing by asking how to become involved in your daughter's life. Keep in mind that because you have not been involved to date, the courts are unlikely to allow you to be thrust into her life as if there has been no absence. Assuming mom is not amenable to you returning on the terms that are in teh best interests of your daughter, you are going to have to initiate a proceeding that will determine your parental responsibilities -- most likely a divorce proceeding. Once you do that, a court can eventually enter parenting orders for you.
This is not going to be an easy road to travel. You should seek help from an experienced family law attorney. One of the attortneys at my firm -- or on this website -- would be happy to talk to you bout next steps.
Our link is below.
In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.