Divorce is one of the most disturbing events in the lives of couples not just mentally and psychologically, but even financially. Custody and care of children are arguable, the most perturbing decisions that the separating parents have to face! Preservation of the child’s best interests is the foremost deciding factor, while also keeping the wishes of both the parents in mind. Expert legal guidance from an experienced child custody lawyer can be of great help to ease the mental burden.
We provide case-specific counseling and legal advice to arrive at the best arrangement to suit all parties. With over three decades of experience in the field, we’ve helped several clients to get a perfect child care decision under the laws in a child custody case.
What are the Types of Custody?
As per Colorado law, child custody covers two aspects. The custody is also categorized as such and are:
Physical Custody – This simply indicates with whom the child is physically going to stay. The physical custodian automatically becomes obliged to look after the child’s physical, medical as well as emotional well-being. This includes home, food, medication, schooling, etc. In cases where both the separated partners are residing in close vicinity, it’s possible to divide the responsibilities among them.
Legal Custody – The legal custodian has powers for decision making regarding the child’s education, religion, and upbringing. Generally, legal custody is jointly given to both the parents, unless it can be proven that one parent can harm his/her character building.
What are the Factors in Finalising Parenting Time Decision?
As mentioned above, children’s interests are the deciding parameters to decide the parenting time. The law considers the following factors to determine how the children’s best interests are preserved :
- Child’s needs and requirements.
- Parent’s wishes.
- Children’s wishes with due consideration to their maturity level.
- Average time spent by the parents with the children in the previous two years.
- The existing arrangement of distribution of caretaking duties.
- The child’s relationship with parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.
- Effects on the child’s schooling etc.
- Distances between the residences of the parents.
- Financial status and physical as well as mental conditions of the parents and others concerning the case.
- Previous instances of violence and/or abuse.
- Any criminal cases against any of the parties.
- Preparedness of each parent to allow the other party to have a healthy relationship with the child.
It’s important to understand that the above list isn’t exhaustive and the court can take into account any other factor.
How are Custody Disputes Settled in Court?
If the parents can’t arrive at the best child custody agreement in a friendly way, they may file a case in a family court. The judge/jury empowered to decide on the child’s custody will look at all the facts of your case before passing judgment. The court’s decision is affected mainly by the “child’s best interests” and don’t be surprised by the recurrence of this term in the court!
It’s pertinent to note how exactly the judge/jury decides how the child’s “best interests” are taken care of. A few of the important aspects which a judge will examine are:
- The emotional and physical needs of the child.
- The child’s physical as well as emotional safety.
- Parenting prowess of each party.
- The child’s wishes (if he/she is mature enough).
- Financial, emotional, and societal standing of each parent.
- Any cases highlighting criminal nature or psychological instability of any parent.
- Any other miscellaneous factor as deemed fit by the court.
Can You Get Sole Conservatorship Over Your Child?
If you’ve got any proof of domestic violence against your partner, you can apply for the sole conservatorship of the child. The court may decide to provide a parenting arrangement that allows only supervised contact of such a parent.
It may also be granted in cases of disappearance or demise of one parent. Another condition in which the sole conservatorship may be given is when the judge opines that the parents aren’t capable of making joint decisions in the child’s best interests!
What’s Meant by Best Interests of the Child?
The custody of the child is decided to ensure that his/her best interests are secured. This is adjudged based on several factors like the child’s needs and his/her relationships with the parents. In addition to this, the judge also examines the financial and social stability of the parents as well as any pieces of evidence highlighting the unsuitability of any parent.
The parent who gets to keep the child is called “custodial parent” or “managing conservator” and the other partner may get visitation rights as deemed fit. With years of experience, our expert child care lawyers can answer all your queries and can assist in finalizing a suitable parenting plan for your children.
What’s an “Unfit Parent” as per Colorado Law and How it can be Proved?
If you feel that your partner can harm your child’s upbringing or welfare, you can apply to terminate his/her parental rights. This can be achieved by getting the court to declare your partner as “unfit parent”, for which different States have different considerations. In Colorado, the process involves much more than a simple presentation of evidence; let’s have a look in subsequent paragraphs.
What are the Factors to Determine an Unfit Parent?
If the child may be under some kind of emotional or physical danger due to a parent, such a parent can be declared as unfit. This can also be done, when a parent can’t meet the child’s necessities. However, the family courts in Colorado don’t work on generalizations and have very stringent rules, especially for declaring someone as an unfit parent. A few important factors that the court studies in such cases are:
- Any kind of sexual, physical, or mental abuse of the child.
- A grave wound to the child.
- An established history of domestic violence.
- A general attitude of the parent towards the child.
- The parent’s dependency on alcohol or any drug.
- Any criminal case against the parent.
- The parent’s financial, emotional, or mental instability, which can adversely affect the child’s upbringing or welfare.
- Any cases to show that the parent is neglectful towards his/her responsibilities.
- Whether the parent has been denied parental rights in any other State.
What are the Types of Custody?
Following are the two broad types of child custody:
1. Joint Custody. The responsibilities and rights to make decisions related to the child’s schooling, health, etc are shared by both the parents. The degree of rights may vary based upon your specific case.
2. Sole Custody. Only one parent is given the responsibility and right to make decisions about important aspects of the child’s life including education, welfare, etc.
The legal custody of the child allows the parents to decide the following:
- The religious education that the child gets.
- Education institute that the child can attend.
- The child’s healthcare including which doctors, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc will the child visit.
- How, when, and where the child can travel.
- Where will the child stay.
- The extracurricular activities like summer camps that the child can attend.
In the case of joint legal custody, both the parents can take important decisions on the above aspects. Both partners don’t need to agree on all such decisions; even one of them can decide. However, regular and timely communication between both the parents is important to ensure that you don’t land in more legal issues.
How Child Visitation or Custody Orders Can be Enforced?
Although most people try their best to follow the court’s decisions regarding parenting plans, there are instances where these orders get flouted. If you feel that you’re being denied your entitled parenting time intentionally by the other partner, there are legal actions that can be taken to enforce the court orders.
If there have been repeated violations of the scheduled parenting time from the other party, you may look to address the issue. The ideal solution to the problem is to change the parenting plan. However, if the other parent doesn’t respond to your requests, or if he/she isn’t approachable, you can hire an experienced child custody attorney to mediate on your behalf. Our family lawyers can get you the best parenting plan through negotiations with the other party or his/her advocate.
The first impact of hiring a well-reputed lawyer is that your separated partner realizes your seriousness in getting the most suitable parenting plan and enforcing it. Besides, it gives you the best chance to obtain a visitation plan, which fits your requirements.
If you’ve got adequate evidence that your visitations or custody rights are intentionally being disregarded by the other party, you can resort to different types of legal actions. If you feel that your children are likely to be kidnapped or withheld, you must immediately file a case for an emergency (ex parte) hearing. You could even complain to the police.
Whether you’re looking to enforce an existing visitation or custody orders or any other family-law related case, we offer comprehensive advocate services. Our expert lawyers can answer all your queries about Colorado child support, adoption, parenting plan, or guardianship issues. Just contact our law firm and speak with an experienced family law attorney to get the best solutions to your family law cases.