Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyer

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Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyer

Colorado Springs Child Custody Attorney

Coming to an agreement on child custody and visitation can be one of the most challenging obstacles parents face during a divorce. One way you can protect your rights during child custody and visitation court cases is by hiring a Colorado Springs child custody lawyer who understands the state’s family code. With the right legal representation, you can resolve your family court case while protecting meaningful access to your child or children.

What Are My Parental Responsibilities?

Colorado’s family courts do not use terms like “sole custody” or “child custody” as many other states do. Research has shown that children benefit from equal or close to equal access to both parents. In 1998, Colorado state leaders adopted the term “parental responsibility” to describe the rights and expectations of parents in Colorado. When the labels of “visitation” and “custody” are removed, both parents are more likely to view parenting less as a competition and more as a collaborative effort.

Along with establishing parental responsibilities, Colorado establishes guidelines for setting parenting time between both parents. Parental responsibilities are divided into two parts: parenting time and decision-making.

Parenting Time and Decision-Making

Parenting time covers where the child lives. In most cases, the child will effectively have two homes. Colorado encourages equal parenting between parents, but how that looks in a particular case could vary.  Parenting time is a crucial topic because it determines the time a parent has with their child. For example, parenting time determines where a child will be for certain holidays.

Family courts typically decide on parenting time arrangements based on the best interests of the child, considering factors like parental work schedules, the child’s school routine, and the child’s relationship with each parent. These arrangements can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the parents involved.

Decision-making refers to parents’ rights to make choices concerning things like medical care and education. The court may determine who has decision-making power for the child if the parents cannot resolve a dispute outside of court. Many parents share this power and have to come to a consensus on important decisions.

Although dividing parental responsibilities may seem like a daunting task, an experienced family law attorney can break the process down into manageable steps. With each area of agreement between the two parties, both parents can be closer to co-parenting and enjoying meaningful time with their children.

Factors That Determine Child Custody

When both parents in Colorado Springs can come to an agreement on how to share parental responsibilities, the courts will honor those agreements. The one exception would be if the courts believe that an agreement is not in the best interest of a child. When determining what types of living conditions serve the interest of children, a judge may consider:

  • The child’s happiness
  • The safety and security of the child
  • The child’s mental health
  • Which environment supports the child’s emotional development into young adulthood

In the heat of a divorce, one parent may seek to diminish the visitation and parental rights of the other parent, but the courts will only limit a parent’s rights if there is evidence of past abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Domestic violence is one area that can influence a court’s decisions about a child custody case.

Allegations of domestic violence, current criminal charges, and past convictions can greatly complicate a child custody case. On one hand, family court cases often see false allegations levied against one or both parents. On the other hand, the courts have an obligation to take accusations that could result in child abuse seriously.

When one parent willfully makes false allegations in family court, those acts can ultimately backfire. The courts do not view false allegations favorably.

How Child Custody Determinations Are Finalized

When both parties can agree to the terms of child custody and visitation if the plans serve the interests of the children involved, a judge will approve the agreements through a parenting plan. It is not uncommon for child custody agreements to become the central sticking point to resolving a divorce. One remedy for resolving areas of disagreement would be mediation.

A mediator is a neutral third party who has training in conflict management. Mediators often have past experience as a judge or family law attorney that they can bring to mediating a family court case. Any agreements both parties sign off to in mediation are binding and can serve to move a divorce case toward resolution.

When both parties cannot come to an agreement, a judge will settle any lingering issues during a trial. Having to go to court can significantly lengthen the timeline of a divorce case. An experienced family law firm can work to find consensus on challenging areas of disagreement to avoid the need for trial.

Once the case is finalized, both parties will have to abide by the terms of the divorce decree and the parenting plan. Any parent who does not follow the terms of the decree could be found in contempt of court and face penalties.

Parental Responsibility Modifications

Modifying a court-ordered parenting plan is necessary in certain circumstances. Courts generally require anyone seeking modification of parenting schedules and custody terms to demonstrate that there has been a substantial change to the living conditions of either parent.

A modification to the parenting agreement may be necessary when one parent moves significantly farther away. This can make the current visitation schedule difficult, if not impossible, to maintain. Modifications may also be made to protect the children from a dangerous situation. If one parent is found to have abused, neglected, or abandoned their child, the other parent can ask the courts to limit the visitation rights of the parent who poses a danger to their children.

Modifications to child support can be made in situations where the parent who pays child support becomes ill or injured. The courts generally do not modify child support unless there has been a significant change to the earning potential of the parent who pays child support.

Another situation where one parent may ask the court to reduce or eliminate child support is when the parenting schedule changes significantly. Child support in Colorado Springs is based in part on how much time one parent spends rearing their child. When the parent who pays child support takes on significantly more child-rearing responsibilities, the basis for paying child support may be diminished.


Q: How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost in Colorado?

A: A child custody lawyer in Colorado will generally charge by the hour. Newer, less experienced family court lawyers are more likely to charge lower fees, while experienced attorneys who have a track record of resolving child custody cases on favorable terms for their clients are likely to charge higher fees. If you are looking for a child custody lawyer, consider the experience of a potential attorney as much as their fees when deciding who should represent you in court.

Q: What Happens If My Spouse Fights Shared Parenting?

A: Colorado’s family court prioritizes shared parenting arrangements. Children are most able to grow into healthy, productive young adults when they have both parents in their lives. If your spouse fights shared parenting, those efforts could call into question their ability to co-parent. Being willing to co-parent through shared parenting agreements shows that you are able to put the interests of your children above your self-interests.

Q: Is Colorado a 50/50 Custody State?

A: Colorado is effectively a 50-50 custody state in the sense that the courts view both mothers and fathers as being equally entitled to meaningful time with their children. Historically, the courts have not been favorable to fathers who seek equal parenting time with their children. Studies have shown the value of allowing children to have equal or near equal time with both parents and both sides of their family.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in Colorado?

A: Until a child turns 18, they are not adults and cannot decide which parent to live with in Colorado. Children must abide by the parenting agreement that is currently enforced. Children may have preferences on which parent they’d rather spend more time with, but that does not supersede the rights of both parents to have meaningful time with that child.

A judge may choose to consider the wishes of a child when making child custody determinations, but a judge is not obligated to consider the wishes of a child.

Q: How Do You Win a Custody Battle in Colorado?

A: One way you can increase your chances of a favorable outcome to your custody battle is by working with an experienced family court attorney who understands how to protect the parental rights of their clients. Having inadequate legal counsel can lead to long-term consequences that could diminish your access to your child.

Schedule Your Colorado Springs Child Custody Consultation Today

In the heat of a child custody case, the possibility of a favorable outcome can seem hard to grasp. You can improve your chances of preserving your parental rights by working with a lawyer who focuses on domestic relations issues. If you are ready to work with a distinguished family law firm that takes a client-focused approach to each case, contact The Law Center P.C. today.

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