Every Child Has the Right to Be Safe and Cared For

In family law, cases that are brought to court are often those that feature the breakdown of the family unit in some form or another. Typically, this includes divorce or divorce. In some case, domestic violence or abuse is the reason that family lawyers like Kelli J. Malcolm have to get involved. Dependency and Neglect (D&N) cases are those brought forth by the county department of human and social services where there are allegations of abuse or neglect against a child. The courts appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the best interest of the child as well as an OCR attorney to act as counsel for the child.

Advocating on behalf of a child is different than the typical attorney-client role where the legal team is representing the expressed wishes of the client. In cases of dependency and neglect, the advocacy is for the safety and welfare of the child. Additionally, unlike most other family law cases, cases of dependency and neglect involve many more parties. All parties in a D&N case are entitled to lawyers and other advocates. Some of the key players in your family’s dependency and neglect case may include:


Everyone involved in a dependency and neglect case is entitled to have a lawyer. This includes the child, the accused parent or guardian, and any interested parties including the other parent or interested guardians.
As mentioned above, there will be a GAL and a county attorney to represent the child.


In every D&N case, there will be a caseworker or social worker appointed by the county to coordinate services and maintain contact between family members. The caseworker will make recommendations on plans and outcomes of the case based on assessments and resources available.


Court-appointed special advocates (CASA) are trained volunteers who make recommendations regarding the best interest of the child and advocate for the safety of children. The CASA is generally not a legal representative and is only concerned with the safety of the child.

At the Law Offices of Kelli J. Malcolm, our Denver-based family law team is passionate about defending the rights of children and families in the Denver area. As a Denver child abuse lawyer, we aggressively defend the rights of children as well as parents who accused of abuse and neglect. If your family is involved in a child abuse case, contact us for the legal representation you deserve.

Understanding Colorado Dependency and Neglect Laws

Understanding Colorado Dependency and Neglect Laws

While many people understand that heinous acts of violence against children — physical or sexual abuse — are considered abuse and are illegal in all 50 United States, there are some things that many parents and families may not understand. Under Colorado child abuse laws, a child is considered to be dependent or neglected if:

  • A parent or guardian abandons, mistreats, or abuses the child,
  • A parent or guardian fails to provide a safe environment,
  • A parent or guardian allows another person to abuse or mistreat a child or does not prevent or stop abuse from occurring,
  • The child lacks proper care through intentional action or inaction of a parent or guardian,
  • At birth, a child tests positive for a controlled substance,
  • The child runs away from home, or
  • The child is homeless.

Some lesser-known conditions that are considered dependency and neglect include:

  • Spanking,
  • Leaving a child alone at home or in a vehicle,
  • DWAI — becomes aggravated with a child in the vehicle,
  • Exposing a child to illicit or controlled substances,
  • Committing an act of domestic violence in the presence of a child (even if the child is not involved),
  • Failing to report suspected child abuse.

If any of these things are suspected, the county will review the living conditions of the child and determine whether or not to pursue a D&N case. In these situations, findings may require parental education, relocation of the child, or loss of parental rights. Outcomes are based on the severity of the child’s condition, the ability for the parent to make corrective actions, and the history of the parent’s abilities. As with any case, each dependency and neglect case is thoroughly investigated and reviewed based on specific circumstances.

Each case of dependency and neglect is unique. While some cases may be founded and abuse or neglect is presenting a threat to the welfare of the child, other cases end up being exaggerated or a misunderstanding. Domestic violence and child abuse should never be accused or exaggerated as grounds for child custody or divorce outcomes. Reasonable physical discipline such as spanking is generally not considered child abuse so long as it does not breach the lines of criminal child abuse.

Child Abuse Lawyer Denver Can Count On

If you are facing allegations of child abuse or if you are the other parent in a criminal child abuse case and are looking for aggressive legal defense that you can count on in Denver, turn to the family legal team at the Law Offices of Kelli K. Malcolm. We are in the business of family law to protect the families of Denver and defend those who need it most. For other related services, click on the links below to learn more.

Domestic Violence Attorney

Child Custody Lawyer