Denver Child Custody Law Firm
If you have children and are considering divorce, you will no doubt have concerns about their welfare and how they will divide their time once the divorce is finalized. In the state of Colorado, a parent may obtain a court ordered parenting plan through their divorce case, and that plan will outline the role each of the parents will take in the children’s upbringing.
You may have a child, are not married to the child’s other parent, and will wonder what your role, legal rights and responsibilities will be in their life. In a situation where parents are not married, an “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” case must be filed to formalize parenting time with his or her children.
Best Interests Standard
Share of parenting time is decided by what is in the “best interests” of the children. Colorado laws lean toward a shared custody situation. In general, the courts believe that it is best for children to have adequate bonding time and maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents, no matter who the child lives with. The end goal is to create a harmonious co-parenting relationship with both parents in agreement on how parenting time is structured. The less conflict the children are exposed to throughout this process, the better off they will be. A Denver child custody attorney of Hulse Law Firm can help you accomplish this.
If parents cannot reach an agreement regarding parenting time, the Court will determine the most positive environment with the greatest opportunity for nurturing the children, and order one based on the “best interests standard.” The Court will evaluate several aspects of the parents’ and children’s lives in order to get a clear picture and make the proper decision. They will consider the following factors:
- the wishes of the child’s parents
- home environment each parent offers
- the wishes of a child if the child is sufficiently mature enough to express reasoned and independent preferences
- the interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may be a significant member of the household
- each parent’s financial circumstances, employment situation, and availability
- the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- the mental and physical health of parents and the child
- each parent’s ability to encourage positive and nurturing contact between the child and the other parent
- the past pattern of parental involvement with the child
- the distance between the parent’s homes as it relates to the practical considerations of parenting time
- the ability of each parent to place the child’s needs ahead of his or her own needs
Judges prefer an arrangement that does not cause any unnecessary disruptions in the children’s lives. However, if one of the parents is unstable, unreliable, undermines the relationship, or is unlikely to adhere to court ordered parenting schedules, the Court will take that into consideration when deciding where the child should spend his or her time.
Other Circumstancing Related to Parenting Time Schedules
You may be in a situation where the other parent is wrongfully withholding your child from you. Or the other parent is demanding more time than you believe he or she can handle with the children due to work schedules or past behaviors. Worse yet, you may believe that the child is a witness or victim of domestic violence or drug use in their environment and must be protected from the other parent or household. Contact a Denver child custody lawyer immediately, if this is the case or if there is a conflict in reaching an agreement as to parenting time. It may be necessary to retain a “Child and Family Investigator,” (“CFI”) or a “Parental Responsibilities Evaluator,” (“PRE”), to investigate the circumstances and provide recommendations to the parents, and, ultimately, the Court.
If you are having a conflict with the other parent as to parenting time, it is highly recommended that you meet with a Hulse Family Law child custody attorney in Denver, CO to discuss your case. We will talk about your concerns and counsel you on the legal actions that should be taken.
Modification of Parenting Time Schedules
As children get older and family situations evolve, there are circumstances that would justify a change in a court ordered parenting time schedule. That change could be a new plan already agreed upon by the parties, or it could be contentious and involve issues such as relocation or concern for the child’s welfare. In order to modify a schedule, a “Motion to Modify Parenting Time,” will need to be filed with the Court. Especially under contentious circumstances, a parent would need to be well-prepared to justify the reasons for the modification. The Court will again look at the “best interests” factors as they evaluate the validity of the modification.
In addition to reaching an agreement or obtaining an order regarding parenting time, there also needs to be an agreement or order regarding “decision-making” of the children. The parties can either share “joint” decision-making, one party can have “sole” decision-making, or the parties can each have sole decision-making regarding different categories regarding the child’s upbringing. Major decisions generally include those related to medical care, religious upbringing, education, and extracurricular activities.
Determining Child Custody Can Be Complex
Because Colorado relies on the “best interests” standard, there is no “one fits all” parenting time schedule. Contact the child custody lawyers in Denver, CO of Hulse Law Firm for a consultation about the specifics of your particular circumstances and your goals. We will listen to you with compassion and understanding, providing you with the legal expertise you need to best handle your situation and reach your custody goals. The parenting time schedule that will be achieved will depend on many aspects, and you should not hesitate to seek our legal counsel as soon as possible.