Child Custody Attorney in Longmont
Let Our Team Fight for Your Parental Rights
Custody (known in Colorado as "Allocation of Parental Responsibilities")
refers to two major issues relating to children. These two issues are
parenting time and decision making authority, and they are a common part
of cases involving
divorce, legal separation, annulment, paternity, or child support. If you need
help addressing a child custody matter, our Longmont divorce lawyers at
Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. can assist you.
Call (720) 809-8310 to request an initial review of your case.
Sole Custody vs Joint Custody
One reason that the Colorado legislature created a statutory framework
that no longer uses the term "custody" is to provide less of
a sense that one parent has "won" or "lost" custody
of the children. Colorado does not have "sole custody" or "joint
custody." Most cases involving children result in some shared allocation
of parental responsibilities between parents. A parenting time schedule
for shared parenting time with each parent and joint decision making on
major decisions for the children is the most common outcome in cases involving
children. The idea of "sole custody" is often asked about, but
allocation of parental responsibilities solely to one parent is usually
limited to extreme cases of imminent threat of harm to a child or complete
non-involvement of a parent.
Understanding Colorado's Child Custody Laws
When making an initial child custody determination, Colorado courts will
consider the "best interests of the children" to determine what
parenting time and role in decision making each parent will have.
There are no set rules on who will automatically get custody of the children.
There are statutory factors that the court must consider in awarding parenting
time and decision making authority to parents.
Among these factors are:
- A child’s preferences, if they are old enough to make a decision,
and the preferences of each parent.
- The nature of the relationships between a child and each parent, as well
as other relatives or individuals who the child may come into contact
- A child’s adjustments to a new community, school, and home life.
- Parents’ ability to share responsibility and maintain positive communication/relationships.
- The history of parents’ involvement in child’s life and indications
of their ability to provide support and a positive home, and meet commitments.
- The location of parents / guardians in relation to one another, as this
can impact parenting time.
Children's Wishes / Children's Choices on Custody
In Colorado, there is no set age (prior to the age of 18) for when a child
can decide which parent to live with. As a child gets older and more mature,
he or she may have more input on which parent they'll live with, and
what parenting time with the other parent will be. However, the widely
held belief that a child over the age of twelve gets to decide custody
issues is a harmful myth. No minor child has an absolute say and the idea
that they do can be harmful as forcing a child to make a choice can be
seen as alienating the child from a parent.
A court will consider the child's wishes to the extent that the child
is sufficiently mature to express their reasoned and independent preferences
as to the parenting time schedule and to the degree that those expressed
wishes are consistent with the child's best interests. However, the
court will not ask to speak to the child directly, and parents should
never take a child to court. The court will appoint a neutral professional
to speak with the child, and parents and some collaterals, and make a
recommendation to the court which would include, among other points, the
The court needs to know how decisions about education, medical issues,
religious upbringing and other specific issues related to your children
will be made. Sometimes those can be shared between the parents, and sometimes
one person should make the determinations. The Colorado legislature has
recognized that co-parenting isn't possible in all cases, however,
our statutes are written to strongly push toward that end. If you have
a case where co-parenting really is not reasonable or feasible, you need
a strong team to help explain to the court the intricacies of your special
situation. Our legal team has years of experience and strong skills in
helping you form and support these arguments.
For more information about Colorado's child custody laws, contact us today.