Workable Solutions For Child Custody And Co-Parenting In Colorado
Disputes over child custody and parenting arrangements require thoughtful and creative solutions in order to allow divorcing parents to go their separate ways while still raising children together in a healthy and cooperative manner.
The family law attorneys of Hogan Omidi, PC, are well-versed in all facets of Colorado custody law. In fact, our founding partner wrote the book on family law; she co-authored the definitive text on the subject which is used by lawyers, judges and professionals throughout the state.
Our firm will vigorously protect your parental rights while helping you find practical solutions to these complex issues. Contact us today to discuss your custody-related concerns.
From Halleh’s interview for the Masters of Family Law series on ReelLawyers.com
Understanding Colorado Custody Laws
Colorado statutes no longer refers to “custody” and “visitation” because it implies that one parent is the real parent and other is only marginally involved, which does not reflect reality. The official legal term is allocation of parental responsibilities, but of course most people still use custody as shorthand.
The family courts are concerned with two aspects of parental responsibility:
- Decision-making (aka legal custody) regarding major decisions on the child’s education, medical care and general welfare.
- Parenting time (aka visitation or physical custody) regarding day-to-day care and how much time the child spends in each household.
Typically, both parents share decision-making authority (aka joint legal custody). Parenting time might be split equally or nearly equally, or it might be more one-sided. A parent who is awarded a greater share of parenting time may be referred to as the primary parent or custodial parent, but the noncustodial parent retains an equal say in child-rearing decisions if there is joint decision making.
We represent mothers and fathers in contested custody proceedings, to preserve their active role in the child’s life and safeguard the best interests of the child. Collaborative family law or mediation may help parents find common ground for agreement on custody rather than putting their fate in the hands of the court.
Colorado’s “Best Interest of the Child” Standard in Child Custody Determinations
In Colorado, the standard for child custody is what is in the “best interest of the child.” This standard is based on many factors that are specific to each family’s situation. The court will consider all relevant factors when making a custody determination. All families differ and not all the statutory factors will be applicable to every family. The following is a list of some of the most common factors the court will consider when making a custody determination in Colorado.
The Ability of Each Parent to Provide for the Child’s Physical, Emotional, and Mental Needs
One of the first things that a court will consider when determining custody is each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs. The court will look at things like each parent’s employment situation, their relationship with the child, and their ability to provide a stable home life.
The Relationship Between Each Parent and the Child
The court will also consider each parent’s relationship with the child when making a custody determination. The parent-child bond is an important consideration, and the court will look at which parent has been more involved in the child’s life. Factors such as which parent has been more involved in school activities, medical appointments, extracurricular activities, etc., may be considered by the court.
Any History of Abuse by Either Parent
Another important factor that the court will consider is any history of abuse by either parent. If there is any evidence that either parent has abused the child or engaged in domestic violence, that will likely be a major consideration.
History of Substance Abuse
The court will take into account the severity and frequency of the substance abuse, as well as any efforts that have been made to address the problem.. In cases where both parents have a history of substance abuse, the court may give preference to the parent who has demonstrated more success in overcoming their addiction. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the child has a safe and stable place to live.
Child’s Relationship With Their Siblings
In Colorado, the courts take a child’s relationship with their siblings into account when making custody decisions. The thinking behind this is that siblings usually have a close bond and that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain that relationship. Additionally, keeping siblings together can provide emotional support for each of them during what is often a difficult time.
The Wishes of the Child
If the child is old enough and/or mature enough to express a preference, the court may give significant deference to the child’s wishes. However, Colorado is not a state where the child ever gets to choose, prior to reaching the age of 18. There is no set age limit at which the child has a say in custody matters. The court will decide if the child is mature enough to express their own wishes independently of their parents’.
Parenting Plans That Help You Move Forward
A parenting plan is the document that sets forth all the terms regarding how decisions will be made regarding the parents’ shared child. The plan also includes the weekly schedule and the details of co-parenting such as pick-up times, family events and summer vacation. It also addresses financial issues from child support to health insurance to which parent claims the tax deduction. Our lawyers help you devise a parenting plan that covers the bases and is fair and practical for everyone.
We Handle All Custody-Related Matters
Conflicts don’t end with the initial determination of custody and parenting agreements. We regularly address issues that arise after divorce or custody decree, such as:
- Relocation by either parent
- Modification of custody, parenting time or child support
- Grandparents seeking visitation or custody
- Visitation by extended family or third parties
- Unmarried parents seeking parenting time
- Same-sex parents who have unique custody issues
When Custody Issues Go Overseas
International child custody increases the complexity of a custody dispute exponentially. Whether you live abroad and are considering a move to Colorado or vice versa, we can help you seek a modification to your existing order. Because international travel, especially if it is long-term, may require written proof of the other parent’s consent, we can advise you on this matter. We can also help you in situations of international child abduction.
Let Us Guide You To Parenting Solutions
We serve the Denver metro area and throughout Colorado, with offices in Cherry Creek and Aspen. To discuss your custody matters with our experienced family law attorneys, please call 303-691-9600 or contact us online to schedule a time for an appointment.