Navigating Child Custody in Colorado: What You Need to Know
If you’re facing a divorce in Colorado and children are involved, chances are you will also be facing matters of child custody and child support as well. When it comes to child custody in Colorado, the courts will always use the best interests of the child to determine a custody agreement. Colorado law divides child custody into two components: decision-making and parenting time. Decision-making pertains to the authority to make significant choices that affect a child’s upbringing. While the Colorado courts prefer parents to share joint decision-making responsibilities, this may not be suitable for all cases. In cases where parents cannot agree or one parent is not capable of making decisions on important matters like education, healthcare, and other significant aspects of their children’s lives, a judge may award one parent sole decision-making responsibilities. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of ensuring that the best interests of the child are met.
Parenting time, on the other hand, determines where the child will live throughout the course of the year including summer vacations, school breaks, and holidays. Parents can choose to share equal parenting time or create a different arrangement that suits their specific needs. Typically, the parent with whom the child spends the majority of their time is referred to as the “primary custodian” or “primary parent.” When parents cannot come to an agreement on parenting time, a judge will evaluate various factors to create an arrangement that is in the best interests of the children.
Child custody can be a complex issue whether your and your ex-spouse are agreeable or not. Having a Grand Junction child custody attorney by your side can make the process much easier. An experienced attorney can help advocate for the outcome that you desire while ensuring that the best interests of your children are protected and file the necessary paperwork. They can provide valuable legal advice and representation, guiding you through the complexities of the child custody process and helping you make informed decisions about your case.
Factors Used to Determine Child Custody in Colorado
Every family has unique needs and each custody agreement in Grand Junction will look different. Judges understand this and consider various factors when determining the best possible arrangement for each family. Some factors a judge will consider include:
- The wishes and preferences of your children, taking into account their age and maturity level
- The preferences of each parent, including their ability to provide for their children’s physical, emotional, and educational needs
- The quality of your child’s relationships with you, your ex, and other significant people in their life, such as grandparents or stepparents
- The stability of your child’s education, home life, and community connections, including access to healthcare and extracurricular activities
- The physical health and well-being of all parties involved, including the child’s physical and emotional health, and any potential risks to their safety or security.
Considering these factors well help the judge to make an informed decision that is in the best interests of the child. While the process can be complex and emotional, working with an experienced Grand Junction child custody attorney can help ensure that your rights and your child’s best interests are protected throughout the custody agreement process.
Joint Custody in Colorado
In Colorado, the courts prefer joining custody whenever possible. It is important to understand that joint custody refers specifically to decision-making, rather than how much time the child spends with each parent. Even if one parent is designated as the “primary residential parent,” this does not necessarily mean that they will have primary decision-making authority if there is a joint-custody agreement in place. In fact, in many cases, both parents will share decision-making responsibilities even if the child spends the majority of their time with one parent.
The primary goal of joint custody is to ensure that both parents play an active and ongoing role in their child’s life. This may include making decisions together about important issues such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. While joint custody can be beneficial for the child, it can also be challenging for parents who are trying to co-parent effectively. It requires a high level of communication and collaboration, as well as a commitment to putting the child’s best interests first.
Sole Custody in Colorado
Although Colorado courts prefer joint custody, this doesn’t work for every family. When joint custody isn’t an option, a judge will appoint one parent with sole custody of the child. The parent with sole custody will be only decision maker and will have full physical custody of the child.