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Uniform Child Abduction Protection Act (UCAPA)


In 2019, it is easier than ever before to relocate to a new place. Oftentimes, it is the conclusion of a relationship that drives us to pursue a fresh start somewhere else. But, what happens when children are involved?

An exciting next step for one parent can alternatively be a nightmare for the other. Can the other parent move away with my child without my consent? The short answer is yes. As such, this article explores actions parents can take to prevent the removal from occurring in the first place.

UCAPA: Your Answer to Preventing Children from Being Relocated Without Your Consent

In our family law practice, we are frequently contacted by parents who face the scenario described above. Typically, the other parent has indicated his or her intent to remove the child(ren) from the Denver area or the State of Colorado. In some cases, there is concern that the other parent intends to remove the child from the United States. These situations are extremely time-sensitive and should be acted on as soon as possible.

In 2006, many states, including Colorado, adopted the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, also referred to as “UCAPA”. UCAPA allows Colorado courts to issue certain preventative orders when there is a credible risk of abduction of a child. UCAPA defines “abduction” as the wrongful removal or wrongful retention of a child.

If the court finds credible evidence that a child is in imminent risk of being wrongfully removed, the court can enter several abduction prevention measures, including but not limited to:

  • Orders imposing travel restrictions on the other parent;
  • Orders prohibiting the other parent from removing the child from school or daycare;
  • Orders requiring the other parent to surrender to the court or counsel his or her passport, along with the child’s passport;
  • Orders directing law enforcement to take action reasonably necessary to locate the child and return the child; and/or
  • Orders requiring the other parent to post bond or provide other security which serves as a financial deterrent to abduction.

To seek the remedies available under UCAPA, a party must also have standing to bring a child custody proceeding. By way of example, child custody proceedings include, but are not limited to, dissolution of marriage actions, paternity actions, or allocation of parental responsibilities actions. Moreover, a parent may request relief under UCAPA concurrent to a petition for divorce, for example, or, a parent may file a UCAPA motion within an already-existing divorce action.

What Can I Do if My Child has Already Been Wrongfully Removed?

If your child or children have already been wrongfully removed from the State of Colorado, contact an attorney immediately to discuss your options. In these instances, it will be important for you and your attorney to determine what court (or courts) have jurisdiction to enter the necessary orders. In some cases, for example, this may involve filing pleadings in both the child’s home state, as well as the state where the child is located currently.

In sum, it is important to act quickly if you have reason to believe the other parent is planning to wrongfully remove or retain your child.

Contact our Denver child custody attorneys today to schedule a consultation: (303) 622-5502.

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