We help clients determine the best way to reach a child custody agreement that is beneficial for the family. When our clients understand all of the options available, it increases the chances of them arranging a child custody agreement that best suits the needs of the children.
Premier Child Custody Lawyers in Denver
A Successful Child Custody Agreement Starts With the Best Interests of The Child
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Custody of Children
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.
Tough But Fair
Colorado Legal Group’s child custody lawyers handle child custody cases throughout Colorado with the goal of arranging child custody agreements that best suit the needs of the children. Simply, we help our clients create child custody agreements that are beneficial for the family. If the child custody issues became contentious however, we are prepared to fight aggressively on our clients’ behalf.
Denver Visitation Rights
One of the most difficult issues in a divorce, no matter how fresh or how old the dissolution of your marriage is, is custody and visitation. If you are having difficulties with a child custody issue, a Denver visitation rights attorney could help you put a stop to them. Whether it is modifying the custody agreement, holding a parent accountable for not following the agreement, or another issue, our staff is here to help during this stressful time.
Modifying an Existing Child Custody Order
As children age and lifestyles and circumstances change, it is only natural that a child custody schedule may no longer meet your or your children’s needs. If you need to get your custody agreement changed, the best way to do so is to work with a Denver visitation rights lawyer. Your attorney will know if you have grounds to request a change and if so, what changes may be possible.
The courts usually consider what is in the child’s best interest to be the cornerstone of decision-making when it comes to their custody. However, you may have grounds to request a child custody modification if:
- The child requests a change
- One parent has moved or changed jobs
- One parent had another child or got married
- The child has been integrated into the other parent’s home with consent of the co-parent (ie. 50/50 but one parent takes additional time at the co-parent’s request)
- One parent has committed a crime or endangered the child
- Either parent or the child has serious health issues
Joint Custody Versus Full custody
Every family is different with their own unique people and needs. The court understands this, and that is why there is no one custody agreement that works for every Colorado family. When determining the division of custody between two parents, the courts consider many factors, such as:
- The desires of your children
- The desires of each parent
- Your child’s relationship with you, your ex, and other influential people in their life
- Your child’s adjustment to school, home, and community
- The mental and physical health of all the parties involved
If one parent has abandoned the child or is guilty of gross misconduct, the judge may give sole decision-making to the other parent. In many cases, a 50/50 custody agreement is more appropriate, allowing the children to spend equal time living with each parent. While good in theory, the logistics of a 50/50 custody arrangement between school and activity schedules can be difficult for both the parents and especially the children. A visitation rights lawyer in Denver could help you negotiate a child custody agreement that will work best for all parties involved.
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The Best Interests of the Child
How The Courts Decide Custody
The standard by which the court will determine child custody is what is in “the best interests of the child.” In order to minimize the trauma of divorce and an unhealthy custody arrangement, the parties should always remain focused on this standard, taking into account such things as the age of the children, their emotional well-being, and their present and former relationships with each parent.
How Much Time You’ll Have With Your Child
Parenting Time and Visitation
Parenting time, on the other hand, is where the children physically reside during the week/weekend, during summers and other major holidays. Parents can share equal parenting time or make alternate agreements. If the children are with one parent for a majority of the time, that parent is typically referred to as the “primary custodian,” or “primary parent.” If the parents cannot agree on parenting time, a judge will examine a set of factors related to the best interests of the children and determine parenting time accordingly.
What's the Difference?
Reasonable Visitation and Fixed Visitation
In a Colorado custody order, the judge will express who has physical and legal custody of the couple’s minor children and the visitation rights of each parent. This part of the order will include the days and times that each parent will spend with the children. It is crucial to understand that even if a judge does not give physical or legal custody to one parent, that parent still has visitation rights under Colorado laws as detailed in Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-123-132.
Reasonable visitation allows the parents to determine an appropriate visitation schedule. The definition of reasonable is different in each state and for each couple. In a reasonable visitation order, the parents will have the freedom to choose what works best for them. The downfall to a reasonable visitation order is that it is generally unpredictable, difficult to enforce, and can be inconvenient for some parents.
On the other hand, a fixed visitation schedule is more common. With this type of schedule, the order is extremely detailed as far as; Where the child will live, Who the child will be with on specific days and times, Where the child will spend their birthdays, holidays, school breaks, and/or summer vacations, and The location where the parents will exchange the child.
For some parents, this type of detailed fixed visitation schedule works best as it leaves little room for interpretation or arguments. Each parent knows exactly who the child will be with on any given day and can plan their schedules accordingly.
Need Help with Child Custody?
Call Colorado Legal Group at 720.594.7360 or get started with a complimentary case evaluation.
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Frequently Asked Questions From our Denver Child Custody Lawyers
Are child custody records public?
As a general rule, documents filed in a divorce case are a matter of public record. In other words, unless a case is sealed, anyone can go to the courthouse and get a copy of any pleading filed in any case. While these are not custody “records,” the parties’ custody agreement and parenting plan are public records. Divorce cases are rarely, if ever, sealed by the court.
Can child custody cases be appealed?
Child custody can be appealed in certain instances but more often clients are better suited asking to modify existing orders to suit the changing needs of a family. A parenting plan that is in the best interests of very young children (2 and 3) often needs to be revised as the children get older and circumstances change.
How long do child custody cases take?
The length of a child custody case depends on several different factors. The more parties can agree on the best interests of the children, the faster cases conclude. A contentious custody case tends to take longer as often parties must wait on expert reports and the court’s calendar to fit the case in.
What is the legal standard the court uses to make a custody award?
The courts in Colorado use the “best interests of the child” standard in determining custody arrangements for divorcing parties.
Should I talk to my child about who she/he wants to live with?
Our firm believes that a child should never be put in the position of choosing one parent over the other. This can have lasting, negative effects on children. Instead, we believe that working with the parents, staying focused on the best interests of the children, and sometimes using third party neutrals, is a far better way to resolve custody disputes.
What is a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator?
A parental responsibilities evaluation (PRE) is an evaluation conducted by an expert, which can involve psychological testing of the parties, third party collateral interviews, child-parent observations, interviews with the parties, and other techniques that allow the expert to make a custody recommendation to the court. These types of evaluations are not the norm, and are typically only used when the parties cannot make any real progress toward resolving their custody issues and there are significant issues at play, such as serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. A less invasive and less expensive alternative is using a Child and Family Investigator to examine the case and make a recommendation to the court.
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