Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions: Parenting Time (Visitation)



  1. What is a normal out-of-state parenting schedule?

    We deal with all aspects of divorce and custody cases related to children. As the economy has become more national and uncertain over the years, it has become more common for people to leave Colorado for either job or other economic reasons. As such, our experienced attorneys have recently seen more cases in which one parent or the other needs to relocate from Colorado, or is already out of state. In these instances, a parenting plan will need to be developed that affords as much time as possible for the non-custodial parent. Of course, courts will set visitation in an age-appropriate fashion, recognizing that younger children may not do as well as older ones when it comes to being away from the custodial parent for extended periods of time. Assuming the children are old enough, a common out-of-state parenting plan would likely include the children being with the non-custodial parent for one week of the Winter Break, alternating Spring Breaks (sometimes each Spring Break), and the vast majority of the Summer. Usually, the custodial parent will get at least a week at the beginning of summer and a week at the end, to get the children ready to return to school. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the schedule to include provisions allowing the non-custodial parent to return to Colorado at least one weekend a month to see the children. In some instances, Thanksgiving break may also be added, as well as long weekends.

    As travel costs for the children are generally going to be split proportionately to the parties’ incomes, as indicated in the Colorado child support statute, C.R.S. 14-10-115, courts will generally only order costs be split for the major blocks of time, not the lesser weekends. In light of the cost of travel, it is not common for the other lesser holidays to be added into an out-of-state schedule, unless the non-custodial parent is willing to travel at his or her own cost for such. Again, each family is different and the above stated schedule may not work for all. Our experienced custody and visitation attorneys can help you with developing your out-of-state parenting schedule.

  2. Can grandparents with visitation rights keep me in Colorado?

    No. Though grandparents are able to seek grandparent visitation in cases involving the custody of a child, or as a new case if their child, one of the parents, is dead, grandparents cannot keep a parent in the state of Colorado should that parent seek to relocate elsewhere. Parents are afforded a fundamental, constitutional right to the care and control of their children. Case law, though allowing grandparent visitation, upholds this right as taking precedence. As such, parents in a grandparent visitation case are free to move. However, modification of the grandparent visitation schedule may need to be sought by either side, preferably prior to then move. With an out-of-state move, the issue of travel costs may also arise.

  3. Are the custody provisions in our will binding if we die?

    No. As Denver custody and divorce attorneys, we are often asked questions related to wills or estates. Those types of matters generally fall under the heading of “probate” law. It is not uncommon for people to ask us about whether a provision in their will regarding custody will be binding on a court or others in the event of both parents’ deaths. A domestic relations court is not bound by a provision in a will. At the same time, that provision should certainly be used as evidence. Furthermore, if neither parent is living, an array of family members or other people would have rights to seek custody, properly termed “parental responsibilities,” for the surviving child. In determining custody, a court needs to assess the circumstances at hand at the time of the case as relates to the best interest of the child and cannot be bound by a document set forth potentially well before then.
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