The fair division of custody — known as allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) in the Colorado family court system — is one of the most important aspects of a divorce where shared children are involved. Wherever possible, the courts will aim for joint parental responsibility between both parties, with respect to time-sharing, making key decisions, and the provision of child support.
Nevertheless, you may find yourself in a dispute with your spouse about how equal this division is, or even that your spouse is pushing for sole parental responsibility. The decisions the court makes in such cases are based on the best interests of the child. This means they will be looking at certain factors that your ex might claim make you a less suitable candidate for equal parental responsibility.
Working with an experienced family attorney in Denver is key to your success. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to gain a good understanding of what aspects can impact your case. So, let’s look at what can be used against you in a custody battle.
Safety and Security
One of the most important factors in any custody case is the safety and security of the children involved. Naturally, as a parent, you want to make certain that your children are in a living situation that best supports their well-being. This is the first priority of Colorado’s family court system, too. Therefore, one of the elements that can be used against you during any APR case is the potential for or perception of aspects of your life that might put your children at risk in any way.
This could include components of your life that might appear dangerous or negative, such as drug use or reckless behavior. The environment you intend for your children to live in can also be the subject of examination regarding safety and security. For instance, if there are aspects of your home that are not up to code or otherwise present health and safety risks.
Your children have a range of needs in their lives. Therefore, the family courts will want to see evidence that each parent seeking APR is able to provide effectively for these. Each parent’s financial situation will be reviewed and form part of the basis for allocation of custody hours. It doesn’t necessarily mean that low finances will deprive a parent entirely of custody. Nevertheless, the decision about primary guardianship is made with consideration as to whether a child is likely to experience hardships.
This means that a lack of financial stability could be used against you in a custody battle. To avoid this, it’s important to be able to show as far as possible that you can maintain steady employment. In the absence of employment, there will usually be an expectation that you have sufficient savings or other forms of income to bridge the gap. It’s important to note, though, that a lack of financial stability doesn’t warrant a permanently unequal division of parental responsibility. It’s important to work with your Denver family lawyer to encourage the courts to allow for a reassessment at a later date, giving you time to make appropriate arrangements.
Your Relationship with Your Children
As a parent, one of the reasons you are seeking an equal division of APR is that you want to maintain a positive relationship with your children. This is certainly more difficult to achieve when you can’t regularly spend time with them. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that your current relationships with your children can factor into the family court’s rulings on APR and some issues here could be used against you in a custody battle.
This can be particularly common if your ex already has a closer relationship with your children. For instance, if you spend a lot of time away due to work or other commitments and therefore have not been previously able to dedicate as much time with your children as your former spouse. Your ex may attempt to utilize this to suggest that your children may not feel as comfortable or secure with you as with them.
Your children’s opinions on the matter can also be taken into account. This can be difficult if you have a strained relationship with your kids due to your parenting approach or personality clashes. They may state they want to reside with your ex, which the courts may factor into their decision-making.
The Potential for Disruption
The Colorado family courts recognize that stable home life is important for your children’s well-being. The divorce process in and of itself can make things difficult for children, so the courts will want to make certain that any unnecessary further disruptions to your children’s lives is kept to a minimum. This means that any potential aspects of your living situation that could be seen to derail a sense of stability could be used against you in a custody battle.
There are various elements that could be seen as disruptive. Firstly, there’s the aforementioned unstable financial status. Also, any inability to predictably and regularly spend quality time with your children due to work or other commitments may be seen as disruptive. Plans to move away from town or out of state could be considered a negative factor as it could disrupt their home, social, and school lives.
It is, therefore, important to mitigate the potential for disruptive influences. However, there are times when certain elements will be unavoidable. In these instances, it’s important to work with your attorney in Denver to present these effectively to the family courts.
Parental Behavior During the Divorce
A divorce is usually in the best interests of everybody involved. It allows both you and your former spouse to move on with your lives independently and positively. Nevertheless, the divorce process can occasionally be long and stressful, which doesn’t always bring out the best behavior in people. Certain types of behavior demonstrated during separation and divorce can sometimes be used against you when arranging APR.
Perhaps the most serious behavior that can affect custody is attempts at parental alienation. It’s not unusual for divorcing parties to speak poorly of one another or of each other’s actions. However, if this is performed in front of the children, your ex may be able to claim that you’ve been attempting to alienate your kids from them or cause disruption to their relationship. This doesn’t have to be directing opinions toward the children directly. Posting negative opinions on social media or speaking indiscreetly to friends in the community can also be utilized against you.
It is, therefore, always important to be mindful of your behavior following separation. Indeed, you must be mindful even after the custody process has concluded, as alienation can still be used against you if your ex files a petition for reexamination of custody arrangements. Aside from anything else, your children have a right to a positive relationship with both parents and it is rarely appropriate to share personal details that may affect this.
Collaborating with Experienced Legal Professionals
Any custody battle or ADR case can be complex in nature, particularly if your former spouse is determined to utilize certain elements of behavior and personal circumstances against you. This is why it is so important to have experienced and knowledgeable legal representation in your corner. Hulse Law Firm provides clients with the guidance needed to navigate the nuances of the Colorado court system and the representation needed to reach fair outcomes for both parents and children. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you have about the APR process and any challenges you are facing.