Whether you are going through a divorce or an unmarried couple who have children, the legal process involving “custody” of your children is a difficult journey which will affect the most important people in your life. Our attorneys believe this is among the most important work we perform as family law counsel and as such, will advocate for you and for your children with diligence and passion.
We believe educating our clients on how the parental responsibility allocation process works and the potential affects it will have on their relationship with their children is an important piece in developing the best parenting plan for your family. With that education in mind, this page has some important questions to consider →
The circumstances of a family will evolve over time. Children grow older, parents living situations and employment change – with these changes may come the need for the modification of parenting plans. The court retains jurisdiction over both parenting time and parental decision making until your children become legal adults. Our experienced attorneys will help you develop a parenting plan which will mitigate the probability of future re-litigation saving you and your family unnecessary distress and expense.
Jurisdiction is a very complex matter. This is an area we strongly suggest you speak with an attorney familiar with multi-state jurisdiction before any action is taken. Our attorneys are experienced in this area and have represented several clients with multi-state custody concerns.
The courts will disrupt the children’s lives as little as possible. Parents should try to establish educational considerations via negotiation based upon the best interest of the child. However, if the courts must decide, the “child’s best interest” standard will greatly influence the decision.
Every family requires a different arrangement based on the specific set of circumstances of that family. Work schedules of the parents, geographic living arrangement challenges, special educational requirements of a child, income discrepancies and family member mental health are just a few of the many factors that must be considered when negotiating parental responsibilities. Counseling our clients on the impact of each of these factors and crafting a parenting plan specifically designed to meet the unique needs of your family is a cornerstone of our practice.
In developing a parenting plan there are a number of concepts we help our clients to understand.
The term “custody” is no longer used in Colorado. Today, Colorado uses two separate concepts, parenting time and parental decision making. Together, these factors are referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. There are many influencing factors that will impact how the court allocates your parental responsibilities.
BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD
In Colorado, the courts will always consider the “best interest of the child” first when determining allocation of parental responsibilities. No other single factor will affect the final orders of the court more than this concept.
In general, parenting time is quantified by the “number of overnights” spent with each parent. Parenting time can vary widely based on the specifics of a particular case. This can be divided in any proportion from equally split to one parent having sole “custody”. Parents who can agree on a schedule for parenting time will incur less legal fees and will find that the courts will usually enter orders reflective of their arrangement.
Parents who cannot agree will have their parenting time determined by the court, based on statute and “best interest of the child”. The court will consider:
The child’s preference dependent on age and maturity
The current living and educational situation of the child and the potential impact of any change
Physical residence stability
The mental health of each parent
Any drug use or addiction of either or both parents
Evidence of a history of domestic violence or child abuse
PARENTAL DECISION MAKING
Allocation of parental decision making responsibilities regarding your children such as education, health care and religion, are influenced by many of the same factors as parenting time. This allocation can be shared between both parties or sole decision making responsibilities can be awarded. It is important to understand that parental decision making is an order of the court separate from any parenting time.
CHILD AND FAMILY INVESTIGATIONS
Some cases may require the appointment of a child and family investigator or a parental responsibilities evaluator. This investigator will report their findings to the court. These experts interview the parents, relatives, children and others to assist the court in determining parenting time and decision making. In cases where the welfare of the child is of significant concern, a guardian ad litem may be appointed who becomes a legal representative for the child. Our firm has both the resources and experience to handle these sensitive and difficult cases.
GRANDPARENT VISITATION AND CUSTODY
Grandparents may be entitled to visitation and in some cases custodial rights for their grandchildren. Our attorneys have successfully represented grandparents and other third part interests in child visitation and custody cases.
CONTACT US TODAY
THE LAW OFFICES OF LISA E. FRAZER, LLC.
936 East 18th Avenue Denver, CO 80218 303-861-7717