Highlands Ranch Custody Modification Attorney
Under Colorado law, child custody arrangements are necessary until the child reaches 18 years of age. However, orders entered at one point in time, perhaps when children are very young, may not be practical as they get older. As such, modifications to existing custody orders may need to be made, from time to time, over the years. Our Highlands Ranch custody modification attorneys understand the importance and sensitive nature of custody issues as these matters pertain to the well-being of your children. If you are thinking about seeking a modification of parenting time or decision-making (legal custody) in Highlands Ranch, the lawyers at Plog & Stein, P.C. have the experience and know-how to guide you through the process.
Making Sense of Modification of Custody in Highlands Ranch
First and foremost, Colorado courts determine modifications of child custody based on the best interests of the child or children, just as they do for the initial custody ruling. As with modifications to child support, a court may look for some sort of the change in circumstances for a modification in parenting time or custody to occur. As relates to parenting time changes might be necessary due to various reasons, such as kids getting older, kids wanting more time with a parent, changes to the child’s environment, or perhaps one parent not appropriately fulfilling their day to day duties as a parent. Modifications of parenting time are generally looked at through the lens of the best interest standard. In instances in which the parenting time was originally allocated equally (50/50), the standard remains the best interest. However, to change parenting time such that the actual, primary physical custody or residence from one parent to other parties will generally need to demonstrate to the court that physical or emotional endangerment exists in the home of the primary parent. Some exceptions to this scenario exist, such as when the primary parent seeks to relocate with the child in a geographically significant manner. Regardless of your situation or circumstances in the Highlands Ranch area, the custody modification attorneys at Plog & Stein are available to help answer your modification questions and to provide diligent and thorough representation during settlement or at trial.
For some parents, an improvement in life circumstances may lead to a belief that more parenting would be better for their children. Conversely, the other parent may feel that increasing the other’s time may not be contrary to the children’s best interest. In some instances, parents are able to agree easily, with little or no argument. In others, full-blown litigation may arise, which will start with the filing of a motion to modify. From there, the matter will either settle or ultimately proceed to a hearing in front of the court. Along the way, there are many twists and turns a case can take, including potentially needing a child custody expert to weigh in.
The other significant facet of child custody which is also modifiable is legal decision-making, or what attorneys might call “parental responsibilities” regarding the making of major decisions for a child. In most instances, decision-making will originally be ordered or agreed upon as being joint. However, the Colorado statute recognizes that circumstances can also change tied into parties’ ability to make decisions, whether jointly or solely. C.R.S. 14-10-131 sets forth the legal standard for modifying decision making. Major decisions will generally be medical, educational, religious, or tied into a child’s overall general welfare. To modify decision making, whether from sole to joint or joint to sole, a party must be able to demonstrate that the current decision making dynamic either presents a physical danger to the child or presents significant impairment to the child’s development. Other reasons for modification might include one parent acquiescing his or her authority or demonstrating a long-running pattern of just not being involved. Likewise, significant changes to parenting time might also be a basis to modify decision making.
In reality, the threshold to change decision making is high and courts will generally be looking for significant changes in circumstances, such as substance abuse, domestic violence, or serious mental illness on the part of one parent. In some cases, the parties might not be able to agree regarding a specific issue, perhaps where the children will go to school. This disagreement may lead to litigation depending on the circumstances. In either scenario, it’s important to have an attorney abreast of the laws and procedures regarding modifications of custody arrangements. The lawyers at Plog & Stein have extensive experience litigating modification cases for Highlands Ranch clients, whether in Douglas or other metro area counties. This includes knowledge of both the courts and an array of experts in the area who might be utilized to assess and weigh in on your case. Preparation and knowing the right moves to make at the right time can greatly impact the outcome of any modification case. Going down the modification path requires the assistance of a family law firm that knows the ins and outs of these legal standards and that will be able to understand how they relate to your individual circumstances.
Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated Custody Modification Lawyer in Highlands Ranch
The family lawyers at Plog & Stein, P.C. bring decades of combined experience handling child custody modification cases to the table. Let us use that experience, knowledge, and insight to honestly and zealously represent you. Whether you need help to defending against a motion to modify or are seeking to change your current orders, we are here to help and will provide you detailed analysis and sound advice along the way. Call us at 303-781-0322 or contact us online to set up an appointment to talk with one of our Highlands Ranch custody modification lawyers about your case.