Parenting Time and the Use of Marijuana

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“With the recent passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, marijuana use is sure to become more of a factor in future Colorado family law cases.” - Rich Harris, President of The Harris Law Firm.

Colorado Family Law Attorney, Rich Harrish

Colorado Family Law Attorney, Rich Harrish

“With the recent passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado, marijuana use is sure to become more of a factor in future Colorado family law cases.” - Rich Harris, President of The Harris Law Firm.

Amendment 64:
Colorado voters amended the state constitution in 2012 by passing Amendment 64 and making the limited possession and private recreational use of marijuana legal under Colorado law. Colorado became one of the first states to face many of the issues regarding marijuana regulation and enforcement at the state and local level. One of the major areas of concern is how the legal recreational use of marijuana will affect Colorado Family Law.

Family Law:
Parental drug use is a common issue in cases involving parenting time disputes. In some cases, the Courts will order parenting time restrictions when there is persuasive evidence that drug abuse endangers the minor children involved.

The questions that Colorado family law attorneys are now asking are:
1. How will the legalization of marijuana affect parenting time?
2. Will the Courts now view a parent who occasionally uses marijuana in the same way they would a parent who has a glass of wine with dinner?
3. Will the Courts treat a parent who grows marijuana the same as it treats a parent who brews his or her own beer?

Case Law in Colorado:
In a Colorado divorce case, Marriage of Parr, 240 P.3d 509 (Colo.App.Div.1 2010), the Court ordered a parenting plan limiting the father's parenting time to supervised visits because the parent had a history of smoking marijuana. In addition, the Court ordered that he submit to a series of regular of urinary analyses to prove that he no longer used marijuana. Shortly thereafter, the father obtained a medical marijuana license, and filed a motion to eliminate the supervision provision in the parenting plan. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that it could not require supervised parenting time absent specific findings of child endangerment.

Evidence of Endangerment:
If a parent wants the Court to restrict parenting time because of marijuana use then it will need to prove endangerment. The legal use of marijuana alone will probably not be sufficient because the parent must prove that the marijuana use endangers the child's physical health or significantly impairs the child's emotional development

As we obtain more clarity on this issue, the lawyers at The Harris Law Firm will continue to comment on Amendment 64 and it's affect on parenting issues in The State of Colorado. Information will be posted online at regarding how the Courts are dealing with the complexities associated with this new legislation, and how this amendment is affecting family law cases in the State of Colorado.

About the Harris Law Firm:
Established in 1993, The Harris Law Firm is Colorado’s largest family law firm with offices in Denver and Fort Collins. The firm now employs a team of 19 skilled attorneys. In addition to divorce and child custody and child support issues in Colorado, The Harris Law Firm also handles issues regarding maintenance, paternity, grandparents’ rights, and step-parent adoptions.

For more information on The Harris Law Firm, including articles written by our family law attorneys, please visit our website.

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Heidi Culbertson
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