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Child Custody Lawyer in Centennial
Parents have both rights and responsibilities related to their children under Colorado law, regardless of whether they live together under one roof as a family. As a result, child custody will be a key issue if you are going through divorce proceedings or seeking to establish paternity. Following the moves by many other US states to modernize the terminology, state statutes now apply the concept of “parental responsibilities” to describe roles, decision making, and other issues traditionally associated with custody. The laws remain extremely complex so, as you might expect, some of the same heated disputes can arise.
When you are facing legal issues involving something so fundamental as your relationship with your child, you can see that retaining an experienced attorney is essential. Our team at the Jones Law Firm, PC is ready to support you and fight for your rights, so please contact us to set up a free case evaluation today. A Centennial child custody lawyer can provide specific details, but an overview of parental responsibilities may be informative.
Overview of Colorado Child Custody Laws
The issue of parental responsibilities will be central in a divorce case, and custody will also be an issue in a paternity case. Whether parentage is established through a court case or Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, parental rights and responsibilities attach. Colorado courts favor both parents sharing in parental responsibilities, even where the child primarily resides with one parent. Sole custody is rare but may be appropriate in situations of violence, abuse, or other misconduct.
The concept of parental responsibilities centers on the important decisions parents make in raising the child. While every case is different, decision making may involve the child’s:
- Health care;
- Extracurricular activities;
- Participation in religion;
- Travel and entertainment; and,
- Many other aspects of parenting.
Closely tied to child custody is visitation, which Colorado law refers to as parenting time. When one parent has residential custody, the other will be granted visitation. The arrangements regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time will be included in your final divorce decree; a similar order will be entered in connection with a paternity case. In both situations, the court will retain jurisdiction to ensure that both parties comply with the order.
Note that custody and visitation also impact child support in Colorado. There are guidelines for determining the amount to be paid by the non-residential parent, but the arrangement for parenting time will also be a factor. The payor parent will pay less when visitation approaches 50-50 in terms of parenting time.
Here are some other prominent factors that play a role in determining custody in Colorado:
The parent’s wishes
Determining if they are “fit” parents
The child’s relationship to each parent
The child’s relationship to the siblings
The child’s adjustment to the school and home environment
The mental and physical health of the parents
Which parent has more time to spend with the child
Who can better provide for the child (for ex: furthering their education)
The geographical proximity between both parents
The parenting styles (are they encouraging, loving, and supportive)
Legal Standard in Colorado Child Custody Cases
When courts must address the allocation of parental responsibilities, the judge is required to make decisions in accordance with Colorado’s statute on the best interests of the child. The law provides that the paramount considerations involve the child’s safety, needs, and overall well-being. However, it goes on to itemize several factors that the court must weigh in the determination. For example, a judge must consider:
- The child’s relationship with each parent, as well as siblings and others who play a role in the child’s life;
- The wishes of the child, where age-appropriate;
- How well the child has or will adjust to a new lifestyle, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of each parent and the child;
- How well the parents can cooperate and make joint decisions;
- Each parent’s ability to prioritize the needs of the child;
- The ability of each parent to encourage a relationship between the child and other parent;
- The geographic location of the parties, as it pertains to transportation for parenting time; and,
- How each parent’s past pattern of involvement with the child demonstrates mutual support, so as to provide a positive relationship with the child.
Strategies for Resolving Child Custody Issues
Many parties going through divorce or paternity proceedings assume that the court will make decisions regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities. This is true to a certain extent, but litigation may be considered a last resort in some cases. Colorado law encourages parents to agree on various aspects of child custody and, by extension, parenting time. When co-parents can reach a compromise, the court will typically not disturb it – though the judge will review the parenting agreement to ensure it complies with the child’s best interests standard.
If you cannot resolve all custody issues by agreement or a few disputes remain, a court may order both parents to participate in mediation. Through the process, the parties sit down with a trained mediation professional to discuss disagreements. Often, the mediator can guide parents to coming closer together on a parenting plan.
When outstanding disagreements remain, you will have to go through a court hearing for a determination on child custody. The proceeding is essentially a trial, where both parents have the opportunity to present evidence, witness testimony, and arguments regarding their positions. At the conclusion, the judge issues a decision on the allocation of parental responsibilities.
Our 4-Step Process Protects Your Rights
Our attorneys at the Jones Law Firm, PC implement a proven approach to providing legal services in connection with Colorado child custody matters. The four steps include:
- When you contact our office, one of our attorneys will listen to your story and assess basic legal issues.
- We will schedule a free consultation at our office to discuss additional details and objectives.
- We will develop an action plan that aims to achieve your goals and protect your interests.
- Our team will put the child custody action plan into place, whether through agreement, mediation, or a court hearing.
Consult with a Centennial Child Custody Lawyer About Your Rights
Hopefully, this summary of parental responsibilities laws in Colorado helps you understand the basics. Still, it should also convince you of the need to have skilled legal counsel on your side through divorce or paternity proceedings. To learn how our Centennial child custody attorneys can assist with your case, please contact the Jones Law Firm, PC. We can schedule a complimentary consultation to review your circumstances, discuss your goals, and determine the next steps.
Call today to speak with a Centennial family lawyer at Jones Law Firm, PC for the trustworthy family counsel you need and deserve.
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