An experienced Denver family law attorney is a valuable asset for families going through the types of difficulties, problems, and challenges that most families have to deal with at some point. Working with our family lawyers guarantees a better understanding of Colorado state laws, improving family relationships post-divorce and securing your half to marital property.
As well as divorce, families may have to confront and deal with issues like:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Domestic violence and restraining orders
- Paternity cases
- Property distribution
- High net-worth divorce
- Contested divorce (litigated)
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are also becoming an increasingly popular demand amongst couples planning to get married or already in a marriage.
These types of family law challenges can be legally complex. To navigate the steps required and achieve an outcome that you and your family members are happy with requires a skilled and experienced family lawyer fighting for your best interests.
The state of Colorado adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) in 1973.
However, the custody of children after a marriage break-up is correctly termed “parental responsibility” in Colorado. “Joint” or “sole” custody of children doesn’t actually exist in Denver. Instead, parental responsibility can be considered joint or sole.
Parental responsibility needs to be resolved in two main areas:
- Decision-making responsibility: which of the parents has the right to make major decisions in their children’s lives, such as education, healthcare, etc.
- Parenting time: where the children physically reside during the week/weekend, during summers and other major holidays and what are the visitation rights of the parent who is not the primary caregiver for the children?
These are two distinct areas that generally require the help of a lawyer to determine.
The court will ultimately decide on child custody based on the best interests of the children. That’s also where we start as family lawyers. We will look to see whether the ideal situation (joint decision-making responsibility) is possible and, if so, how it can be best arranged in the child custody agreement. If there are contentious issues in the agreement, we are prepared to defend your family’s best interests aggressively in court.
If you need to modify an existing child custody agreement to suit the changing needs of your family, we can also help with that.
How Child Custody Works
In Colorado, custody of the children consists of two parts: decision-making ability and parenting time. Decision-making refers to which parent has the right to make major decisions in the lives of their children. Colorado courts like to see the parents share joint decision-making for their children, although this is not appropriate in all cases. Joint decision-making would mean that parents have to agree on major decisions as related to the children’s education, healthcare, and other major aspects of their lives. Joint decision-making arrangements require a collaborative effort between the parents. Decision-making is determined on a case by case basis, and in some situations, the court may award one parent sole decision-making for the children.
Families in Denver who go through relationship break-ups must decide who financially supports the children in this event.
There are two basic ways of doing this:
- Reaching an agreement between yourselves
- Passing it to the court to decide
In both cases, a legally-binding agreement will need to be drawn up with the assistance of an experienced family lawyer.
All child support agreements must be based on several factors:
- Both parents’ incomes
- Certain expenses that are paid for the benefit of the children, such as medical and insurance expenses
- The number of overnights that each parent enjoys with the children
Child support will help meet the reasonable needs of the children. A court-approved child support calculator can be used to estimate child support amounts. This can help you reach an agreement on the amount of child support that should be paid. Court judges will always decide on an amount that is in the best interests of the children rather than the parent(s) in question.
How Child Support Works
Colorado parents have the option of reaching a child support agreement on their own or to have it decided by the court. Child support obligations are based on both parents’ incomes, certain expenses that are paid for the benefit of the children, and the number of overnights that each parent enjoys. Child support is designed to assist the receiving party in covering the children’s reasonable needs.