Negotiating child custody and visitation arrangements is a central part of a divorce when you share minor children with your spouse. In Colorado, the law recognizes two types of child custody: physical and legal. In recent years, the state has moved away from the expression “child custody” to instead speak of “parental responsibility” and “parenting time” although most people still talk of “child custody” out of habit. Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes governs domestic matters, including child custody.
Parenting time or physical custody consists of where the child spends most of their time and primarily resides while parental responsibility or legal custody applies to important decision-making such as educational, religious, or medical matters.
Either type can be joint, shared by the parents, or sole, fully attributed to one of the parents. However, sole custody usually requires that the custodial parent still updates the other about significant changes in the child’s life or their own.
While you and your co-parent should negotiate parental agreements, the judge needs to approve your proposed plan, and if you are unable to find common ground, they have the authority to rule on the matter. A Colorado judge focuses on the child’s best interests for child custody court orders. The concept of a child’s best interests involves various factors to help the judge get a clear understanding of your family’s specific circumstances.
Working with an experienced family law attorney can make a significant difference in protecting your parental rights and your family.
The Child’s Relationship with Each Parent
Although the parent’s wishes are important for child custody, a judge typically wants to assess the quality of the child’s existing relationship with each parent. Colorado judges usually aim to have both parents share custody and spend about equal time with the child.
Certain cases can lead to sole custody to support the child’s physical and emotional well-being. Such cases often involve a parent having a substance use disorder, being incarcerated, or having a history of domestic abuse.
The Child’s Opportunities in Each Parent’s Place of Residence
Is your child familiar with one or both parents’ homes? Is one or both parents near his school, current extracurricular activities, friends, and other relatives like grandparents? To make the transition easier for the child, a judge may decide that the child should primarily live with the parent whose home can foster more familiarity and comfort for at least the near future.
A judge often assesses what opportunities each parent’s area of residence offers for the child’s educational, social, and emotional development. This can depend on your child’s age and personality. If other relatives are regularly involved in the child’s life, a judge may ensure that the child remains in their geographical proximity most of the time.
The Parents’ Willingness to Collaborate
Some divorces or legal separations can be high conflict which can make negotiations difficult, and a judge needs to establish whether the parents are willing to be amicable with each other and respectfully collaborate to support their child.
Establishing a positive foundation for future co-parenting can make an important difference during your divorce proceedings. It can not only alleviate your and your child’s stress, but it shows the judge that you can foster a respectful environment in which you communicate with your co-parent and are ready to follow court orders, including visitation schedules.
Any Other Applicable Factor Affecting the Child’s Best Interests
The judge can take additional factors into account when deciding on what child custody ruling to issue. This can include your child’s preference if they are mature enough to form an independent opinion. If your child needs regular medical treatment, each parent’s proximity to the child’s doctors matters.
Traveling time for visitation schedules, including holidays, is important as it may take time away from actual parenting time. Regarding holidays, if one parent has a specific attachment to a holiday while the other cares little about it, a judge can also consider it when approving a visitation schedule.
Let Clawson & Clawson, LLP Help Protect Your Parental Rights in Colorado
Whether you are considering filing for divorce or are interested in requesting a modification to an existing child custody court order, our team at Clawson & Clawson, LLP is here to support you and find a legal solution that meets your family’s needs and goals as each client’s situation is unique. While we bring our legal knowledge to your case, you are the one who understands your
Our firm serves Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the Denver Metro Area and has supported families going through sensitive life transitions since 1971. When you trust us with your child custody negotiations, we can walk you through your options and help draft and review agreements. Although a judge always needs to approve a proposed plan, we can help protect your parental rights and secure a positive outcome.
Are you looking for a family law attorney to assist you during child custody negotiations in Colorado Springs? Contact Clawson & Clawson, LLP, today at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a consultation!