Denver Attorneys Representing Parents in Family Law Matters
Colorado courts typically decide child custody matters as part of a divorce, but they may also hear custody cases on their own. For some parents, reaching an agreement on joint custody is not an easy process. If you are facing a child custody issue, it is important to consult a Denver child custody lawyer who can fight for your interests and those of your children. At Plog & Stein, P.C., we understand the nuances of Colorado custody laws and can apply our knowledge and experience to your case. Whether you are looking for thoughtful advice or aggressive advocacy, we are here to make sure that your rights are protected.
Situations Involving Joint Custody
Custody is now generally known in Colorado as the “allocation of parental responsibilities.” In a parental responsibility case, one of the potentially contentious issues involves what is known as “parenting time.” This refers to how much time each parent will get with the child. While people traditionally have used the term “physical custody,” this is no longer used in Colorado courts. Meanwhile, the term “decision-making” (or “legal custody”) can be used to describe the other main aspect of parental responsibility, which also can be sole or joint. This typically relates to which parent makes major decisions for a child’s life involving health, education, religion, and more.
As a matter of policy, Colorado believes that both parents generally should be involved in raising a child. As a result, courts tend to favor ongoing and frequent contact between the child and each parent unless there is a physical or emotional danger to the child. In cases in which the parents share joint custody, the parents will have equal rights when it comes to making major decisions regarding the child, the child will often spend substantial time at each parent’s home, and the child will generally split or alternate holidays and special events between the parents.
When decision-making responsibilities are allocated to both parents in a divorce with kids, the court order will provide either that the parents will share joint decision-making authority or that one parent will have sole decision-making authority in a specific area of the child’s life. The parents may have joint decision-making power on one issue, such as education, while one parent might have sole decision-making authority on another matter, such as religion. Courts will typically award sole decision-making power to a parent if it deemed that the other parent will not be able to decide properly due to a significant mental health issue or another specific concern. Under Colorado law, decision-making arrangements will typically not be modified, absent an agreement, unless there is a showing of physical endangerment or significant impairment to a child’s emotional development under the current arrangement. This is a difficult burden of proof to establish, but not impossible.
All custody determinations in Colorado are based on what is in the best interest of the child. Using this standard, the court is free to consider any factor that may be relevant to the child’s overall well-being. Some areas that the court will generally examine include the child’s preference, each parent’s preference, the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s adjustment to his or her school, community, and home, the child’s medical needs, and each parent’s physical and mental health. It is important to understand that the court will examine the relationship between the parents when making a determination about awarding joint custody. Thus, if a parent is hostile or demeaning toward the other parent, such that they undermine the child’s relationship with that parent, the likelihood of getting joint custody might well decrease.
Contact an Aggressive Child Custody Lawyer in Denver
Child custody can be a fiercely contested and multi-layered issue, but you do not need to resolve it on your own. At Plog & Stein, P.C., our skilled Denver divorce attorneys can explore the facts of your case and help you understand your legal rights and options. We offer more than 70 years of combined experience and represent people in Denver, Aurora, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, and Castle Rock, as well as other cities in Denver, Douglas, and Arapahoe Counties. For further information about joint custody and other issues related to child custody, such as the enforcement of parenting time orders, call us at (303) 781-0322 or contact us online.