Child custody matters are the most heated and sensitive discussions in a divorce case. As parents, you always want what’s best for your children, but it can be difficult to communicate and cooperate with your ex regarding child custody. We understand that the complex issues regarding your child can become overwhelming.
Our lawyers will help you through this tough time, advising you and supporting you in all the tough choices and decisions you have to make for your family. If you have concerns about child custody, contact our lawyers today. We have seasoned lawyers who have helped various clients settle child custody matters and reach the most favorable results.
How Does Child Custody Work in Denver, Colorado?
Child custody can be categorized in two ways: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to physical matters like where the child will live and who will be obligated to care for them. The parent granted physical custody will shelter the child and support them physically, emotionally, and socially.
To serve the best interest of a child, physical custody is usually split between the parents. This means that the child will go to and from both parents’ houses to give them equal time between both of their parents. However, this is discouraged if the parents live far away from each other as split physical custody might put undue strain on the child.
Legal custody, on the other hand, is the right to make major decisions for the child. It’s a parent’s authority to decide on crucial matters like healthcare, education, religion, etc. Legal custody is often split between the parents as well, regardless of who gets physical custody.
The determination of who gets legal custody will ultimately depend on the best interest of the child and who among the parents, if not both, has the capacity to make the best decisions regarding the child’s upbringing.
Allocation of Parental Responsibility
Every parent has a responsibility to care for and raise their children in the best way possible. The number one priority of the court is to order the circumstances that will be in the child’s best interest. Usually, the courts find it ideal for the parents to work together and allocate joint parental responsibilities. However, parenting time and decision-making authority can be allocated to a single parent if the court finds that it will better serve the child’s best interest.
How the Court Allocates Parenting Time
When making decisions about parental responsibilities, the court always determines what is the best interest of the child and who among the parents is most suited to take care of him or her. Even how the parents share time with their children will depend on a variety of factors. Some of these include:
- Child’s wishes, if they are mature enough to decide
- Mental and physical health of the parents and the child
- Relationship of the child with the parents
- Parent’s caretaking history
- Parent’s wishes
It’s crucial for courts to determine who among the parents has a better capacity to decide on crucial matters regarding the child’s upbringing. While courts urge parents to collaborate together for decision-making, this can also be allocated only to one parent, or the decisions are split between both of them.
How the Court Allocates Decision-Making Abilities
Similar to parenting time considerations, decision-making abilities are also decided according to what is in the child’s best interest to determine who will make major decisions for the child. The courts consider the following factors:
- Ability of the parents to cooperate with each other and make joint decisions
- Ability of the parents to create a positive and healthy relationship with the child
- Past behaviors, values, time commitments, and support for the child
Types of Custody Arrangements
Custody arrangements can vary according to the children’s specific needs and the unique circumstances of the family. These can be customized to serve the child’s best interest. However, there are common setups usually ordered by the court:
- Joint custody – both parents have physical and legal custody.
- Shared custody – both parents have legal custody, but physical custody is alternated between each parent.
- Sole custody – only one parent has physical and legal custody.
- Split custody – the custody and authority of the parents is split between the children.
- Alternating custody – parents alternate having sole physical and legal custody.
Which one of these custody arrangements will be adopted depends on what is in the child’s best interest. Joint custody is ideal and highly recommended, but if it’s not the best for the child, the court may award sole custody.
Why You Need a Denver Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody cases can be very overwhelming and emotionally draining, especially since you and your ex are going through a divorce as well. You may not be able to handle the matters of child custody alone. Further, these cases can become very heated due to their sensitive nature.
A child custody lawyer can help you navigate the complex matters involved in your case, fighting for you and the best interest of your child. We can help create a fair and beneficial setup that will be for the good of your entire family. We strive to protect your rights and interests so that you can move on from this tough time and pave the way to a new beginning.
Third Parties Who Can Help Resolve Conflicts
It can be hard for ex-spouses to agree on matters involving child custody. To help them resolve conflicts, they can be connected with neutral third parties who specialize in resolving these kinds of disputes. Some professionals that the court can consider to help resolve conflict include:
- Parental responsibilities evaluator, who meets with the parties and conducts testing to help the court determine if the parties are equipped to handle parental responsibilities
- Parenting coordinator, who is appointed by the courts to help the parents manage and implement parenting time schedules
- PC/DM, who is appointed by the court with the consent of both parties to help resolve conflicts between the parents and has the authority to implement or clarify the court’s orders.
Contact Us Today
Our lawyers are human too, which means that we understand how difficult these types of cases are for families. This is why we adopt sound strategies and approaches that protect the interests of everyone involved. You don’t have to go through this alone. Our Denver child custody lawyers can walk with you every step of the way and help you attain the best results. Contact us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Children Choose Where They Live?
The foundation of the court’s decision is always the child’s best interest, so they look at all the relevant factors to determine what is truly best for them. The court’s decisions can be shaped by matters such as the health of each parent, their living conditions, work schedules, relationship with the child, etc.
Of course, the court will not discount who the child wants to live with. Provided that the child is mature enough to make a sound decision and preference, their choice will ultimately play a big role in the court’s decision. However, again, it’s not the only factor that is considered.
Who Gets the Kids During a Divorce?
Typically, parents should come to an agreement about child custody and parenting time. They sit down to resolve their conflicts and come up with arrangements about how they wish to share time with the children and decision-making authority.
These arrangements, however, are not final. They need to be approved by the court. And just like any court decision in child custody cases, the judge will determine if the arrangement serves the child’s best interest. If it does, the court will approve the arrangements.
Parents can also ask the court for temporary custody orders if there are disputes or other circumstances that warrant them. The approved temporary custody orders will order where the child lives and who can make decisions for the child while the custody case is pending.
Can I Change a Child Custody Agreement?
In Colorado, the courts do not freely grant modifications for child custody. Whatever is ordered by the court is final, unless the parent seeking to modify the custody agreement brings a valid justification to the court.
Changing circumstances can warrant a modification of child custody, as long as the parent shows that the changes resulted in the prior arrangement being non-beneficial to the child. These changes can include:
- Changes in the emotional and physical needs of the child
- Criminal activity
- Domestic violence
- Injury or illness of a parent
- Relocation of a parent
- Other major life changes
How Does COVID-19 Impact Child Custody in Colorado?
The pandemic posed a few challenges in child custody matters — not just regarding court hearings but also how parents share parenting time. With the new regulations on social distancing and encouraging people to stay at home, it’s much more difficult now for children to go to and from the houses of their parents. While the court is making efforts to keep up with the new normal, parents still need to comply with court orders regarding child custody and parenting time.