If you are contemplating a divorce in the state of Colorado, you may have many questions running through your mind. If you have children, those questions can become exceedingly complicated as you and your spouse try to determine who gets primary custody of the children. When this situation arises, it is important to contact an experienced Colorado Family Law attorney to help guide you through this difficult process.
No More Custody:
In 1998, Colorado decided to stop using the term “custody” when determining the amount of time a child spends with each parent. The word custody itself seemed to imply that one parent “owned” the child and therefore, had more responsibility. By designating a “primary parent”, the courts were giving all the decision making and responsibility to one parent, while unfortunately alienating the other. As a result, many parents were forced into playing a secondary role in their child’s life.
Since then, Colorado courts have recognized that children benefit the most when both parents are involved in their lives. As a result, the court’s main objection is simply to define the amount of time the child spends with each parent and which parent will be responsible for the majority of the decision making. Most courts advocate for a 50-50 split of parenting time—-as long as it continues to be in the best interest of the children.
Deciding what is the Best Interest of the Child:
In deciding what is in the best interest of the child, the courts will thoroughly consider:
- The child’s wishes
- The parent’s wishes
- Emotional ties to the community
- School the child is currently attending
- Physical and mental health of the parents
- Physical and mental health of the child
If there is any history of abuse or neglect, the courts are required to take this into serious consideration when allocating the child’s time between parents.
A Parenting Plan:
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement, then you can decide what is in your child’s best interest. By agreeing on these terms yourselves, you will have more control over the final outcome and can do what it best for your family. Once you have agreed on the parenting time schedule and decision making responsibilities, you will need to submit your Parenting Plan to the courts.
A Colorado Family Law attorney can be extremely helpful during this stressful time. Your attorney will be able to help you and your spouse write a Parenting Plan that is best for your children. The more detailed your plan is, the better. By determining exactly how your child’s time is divided, you will avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and arguments in the future. In addition, you will be able to provide your child with some stability and predictability during a very unpredictable time.
As family law attorneys, we realize that you are choosing to end your marriage— not your relationship with your children. Our family law attorneys are skilled at resolving custody disputes that arise during a divorce. Our knowledge of Colorado family law can help you and your spouse to come to a mutual agreement regarding your children.