How do Child Custody Cases Work in Colorado?
Child custody is one of the most complex issues in any divorce case. If you're a parent with child custody questions, the following blog should help answer some of the main ones.
The terminology used here in Colorado varies from the terminology used in other states.
For instance, child custody is termed "allocation of parental responsibilities" in the Colorado courts. Legal custody is "decision-making responsibility" and physical custody is called "parenting time."
How do child custody cases work in Colorado?
Child custody determines practical issues like living arrangements, as well as the moral guidance, upbringing, and decision-making responsibilities for the children in question.
The system in Colorado separates the consideration of where children live (ie, with each parent for certain days, times, holidays) from how major decisions are made for the children.
Either the parents can make this decision (amicably, or through mediation), or the Colorado courts will make the determination. Statutes state that judges should award "frequent and continuing contact" between the children and both parents unless the danger of physical or psychological harm to the child is present. The courts also generally prefer for both parents to spend approximately equal time with the children, unless circumstances do not allow that arrangement.
If you find yourself in the fortunate scenario where you and your partner have an amicable separation, a divorce attorney can help you draft a parenting plan that will be enforceable in court.
Both you and your partner will need to agree on all parental responsibilities in the best interests of the children to complete a full parenting plan and the Courts will then adopt your plan upon finding that those agreements are indeed in the best interests of the children.
The agreement must cover both parenting time (residential arrangements and how child(ren)'s time is divided between both parents) and decision-making responsibilities, as well as include child support provisions (i.e., a full parenting plan).
If you cannot agree on these matters, the Court may intercede to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities that are in the best interests of the children. Usually this results in a hearing where the Court makes a determination of the best interests of the children by considering various factors under Colorado Revised Statute §14-10-124.
The priority in making these decisions will always be the best interests of the child (health, safety, education, etc) over the interests of the parents.
Book Your Consultation
Our experienced family law attorneys are available to walk you through the step-by-step process, and to help you establish custody. Call us at 719-633-4541 or book your complimentary initial consultation online.