When a marriage ends, one of the hardest parts of the divorce process for parents involves child custody issues. As a parent, you would do anything to protect your kids, but that can be challenging, especially in an unfamiliar courtroom setting. We are here to help you better understand Colorado’s child custody laws so that you know what to expect during your divorce case.
Below, you’ll find our easy-to-follow child custody guide.
Colorado Child Custody Terms
Although you may be familiar with the phrase “child custody,” it’s important to know that Colorado stopped using that title back in 1999. Instead, it is referred to as “parental responsibilities,” which includes parenting time (physical custody), decision making (legal custody), and child support.
Parenting Time: Having the physical responsibilities as a parent whom the child will live with. This includes everyday caretaking duties, such as providing transportation, food, and drop-off arrangements. In Colorado, parenting time for a child is typically “shared” between parents; however, the ratio of shared parenting time is unique to the facts and circumstances of each family.
Decision Making: This refers to the authority given to parents to make major decisions about a child’s life, including religion, education, health,
Child Support: Court-ordered payments to support the child. that ensure that both parties are responsible for financially supporting a child. Based on the relative contributions required of each parent, one parent will typically have a financial obligation (child support) payable to the other party.
Parenting Time and child support are separate matters; so a Court will not base
parenting time decisions solely on whether a parent is current on child support.
Best Interests of the Child
If divorcing parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the courts will decide. Similar to most states, Colorado uses the Best Interests of the Child standard when determining parental responsibilities. The judge will take into consideration many factors, including the parents’ wishes, the relationship between the child and each parent, and the child’s ability to adjust to a change in community. An important factor is also the ability of parent to place the interests of a child ahead of his or her own interests.
Family courts prefer to keep both parents involved in a child’s life, meaning that a court will craft a parenting plan that attempts to maximize a child’s best interests and parenting time with both parents as the circumstances warrant. In extreme cases where sexual or severe emotional abuse of the child is at issue or if the child witnessed severe domestic violence, parenting time and decision-making may be granted to one party.
Colorado Springs Child Custody Attorneys
As a parent, we know how urgent family matters are, especially when it involves your children. If you are dealing with child custody issues, we are here to help guide you every step of the way. Our experienced team of attorneys will help you understand your rights as a parent and discuss your child's best interests.
To schedule a consultation with Drexler Law, call us at (719) 259-0050.