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Child Custody Attorney in Colorado Springs

How Child Custody Is Decided in Colorado

When parents divorce, the question of who will receive parental responsibilities is often the most contentious issue in the case. Whether the divorce is settled through negotiations out of court or is decided by a judge, the matter of child custody has the potential to make the process drag on, subjecting everyone involved to considerable financial and emotional strain.

At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, our Colorado Springs divorce lawyers can help you come to the most favorable conclusion for your child custody agreement.

What Factors Determine Custody?

In any divorce between parents, the guiding principle in deciding the questions of custody and visitation is the children's best interests. The goal is to arrive at an arrangement for parental responsibilities and parenting time that makes it possible for the children to spend as much time as possible with both parents provided that this would not pose a risk of emotional or physical danger to the children.

Factors that the court will consider when determining an acceptable plan for child custody include:

  • Each parent's wishes
  • The wishes of the children, provided that they are mature enough to make an informed decision on the matter
  • Each parent's existing relationship with the children, as well as how much of a role he or she plays in the children's lives
  • The degree to which each parent is willing to foster a quality relationship between the children and the other parent
  • Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence or child abuse

Types of Custody in Colorado

Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes explains all laws regarding the dissolution of marriages including child custody laws. In the state of Colorado, these are the types of custody that are available:

At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in CO?

There is no age for when the judge must listen to the child's wishes in Colorado. When it comes to deciding custody, a child's wishes are considered if they are mature enough to have an independent opinion.

Can Custody Be Changed?

Custody can be changed in Colorado. Custodial or non-custodial parents can file for modifications to child custody, however, the courts will only accept it if the change will be in the best interest of the child.

Modifications can only be made every 2 years. The only exceptions to this rule are if the court decides that waiting would endanger the child's health, emotional development, or if you are moving.

Be aware that modifications of custody, decision-making, and parenting time are different things and need to be filed separately.

A child custody agreement is usually a final decree, but things come up, and so luckily there are ways to modify parenting plans or visitation schedules under certain circumstances. In Colorado, you can change a child custody agreement in one of three ways: (1) agreement, (2) motion to the court for modification and (3) relocation. Below we’ll breakdown all three methods.

1. Agreement

The cheapest (and sometimes easiest) way to modify a child custody agreement is to negotiate and come to an agreement with the other parent of the child. School schedule changes, a new job, or simply a child’s request are all reasons to agree to a change without bringing in the courts. However, this requires a couple to agree to terms and draw up a stipulation, which can’t always be worked out, especially with couples that are not on speaking terms.

2. Motion to the Court for Modification

If an agreement cannot be met, you can motion for a modification. The court will need a good and valid reason for the change and they will look at factors such as what is in the child’s best interest and their relationship with each parent. However, once you do file a motion to modify, you have to wait 2 years on filing another one, so be sure that it’s in your best interest as well.

3. Relocation

Finally, you can modify an existing child custody agreement if you plan on relocating far away from where your child and other parent lives. You have to provide a written notice of the intent to relocate, the location where you intend to reside, the reason for the move and the proposed revised parenting plan. Again, the courts will look at what is in the child’s best interest, as well as dozens of other factors.

Clawson & Clawson, LLP Fighting for Your Parental Rights

Your Colorado Springs family law attorney has the task of presenting a compelling case for why the children would be better off spending more time in your custody based on evidence about your character, your spouse's character, and the testimony of other parties. At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, we have more than 100 years of combined experience fighting to defend our clients' rights, and an attorney from our firm is ready to meet with you to evaluate your options and give you an unbiased opinion of your case.

We can also help you petition for a modification to an existing child custody order, such as if you need to relocate or if you are concerned about your children's safety with the other parent. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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