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  • Writer's pictureBrian R Boney

Understanding Colorado Child Custody Laws

Colorado's Child Custody Laws have evolved significantly, emphasizing the child’s best interests as the paramount consideration.

For instance, it's noteworthy that the term "visitation" has been transitioned to "parenting time," reflecting a more involved approach to co-parenting regardless of the parent's marital status. This shift only underscores a broader recognition of the importance of both parents playing an active role in their child's life.

That's why understanding child custody laws is not just merely about grasping the legal jargon but also about recognizing the potential impact on your rights as a parent and, most importantly, on the future of your child.

What You Need To Know: Child Custody Laws in Colorado

Legal Custody

Refers to the right to make significant decisions regarding the child's welfare, including education, health care, and religious upbringing. Here in Colorado, this can take two forms:

  • Joint Legal Custody: This is where both parents share the responsibility and authority. Grounded in the belief that, despite the changes in the family dynamic, maintaining an active and collaborative role by both parents in these critical decision-making areas benefits the child.

  • Sole Legal Custody: Sometimes, circumstances dictate that only one parent is awarded the authority to make significant decisions for the child. This could be due to various factors, including the other parent's incapacity, absence, or if joint decision-making is deemed impractical or not in the child's best interest.

Physical Custody

Focuses on your child's living arrangements and how they split their time between parents if at all. A very important arrangement as this directly influences your child's daily life, routine, and emotional well-being.

Much like legal custody, it can also be joint or sole, influencing the amount of time a child spends with each parent.

How to File for Child Custody in Colorado

List of Necessary Documents You Need

Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Your primary document covers important things like who gets to make the big decisions and how you'll spend time with your child. This proposal also shows not just what you want, but how committed you are to making sure they grow up happy and healthy.

Summons in a Civil Action

This Bridges the gap between your intentions and legal action, allowing the other parent the opportunity to respond, which helps co-parents communicate and work out future plans and responsibilities. The court is also there to supervise and ensure that both parents are heard.

Case Information Sheet

The overview of your case, including all important information such as names, addresses, and the nature of the case (custody). This also helps the court to organize and handle your case efficiently, guaranteeing that it receives the necessary attention and consideration.

Sworn Financial Statement (if applicable)

A statement that paints a clear picture of your financial situation, offering transparency and at the same time–ensuring that any decisions financially are made based on accurate information.

Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Financial Disclosures (if applicable)

Certifies that both parties have exchanged the required financial information.

Parenting Plan Proposal

While this may be part of your initial petition, some cases require a detailed parenting plan that addresses both parents' responsibilities and schedules.

Steps to Filing Your Documents:

Download and complete your forms thoroughly. Take your time here. Ensure every section is completed with care, and double-check that the information you provided mirrors your true situation and wishes for parental responsibilities.

Complete the Verification section on the last page of the Petition. A declaration that everything you’ve stated in the document holds true to the best of your knowledge.

File your forms with the court. Submit your completed paperwork to the courthouse in the county where the child resides. A filing fee will be required, though it's important to know that the legal system understands that not everyone can easily afford these fees, so there are financial waivers available.

How to Get Custody of a Child in Colorado?

Understand Your Situation

If you are not married to or in a civil union with the other parent, you should familiarize yourself with Colorado’s specific requirements for establishing parental responsibilities.

File Your Paperwork

After that, you should submit all your completed forms and pay a filing fee, which can be waived for those who qualify for financial assistance.

Serve the Other Parent

Legally inform the other parent of the custody case by "serving" them with a copy of the paperwork to allow the other parent to respond.

Attend the Court Hearing

Both parents will have the opportunity to present their case during a hearing or trial. Make sure to bring any documentation or evidence that supports your position.

Comply with Any Court Orders

Following the hearing, the judge will issue orders regarding custody, parenting time, and any other relevant issues. Remember that compliance with these orders is not just your legal obligation, but a demonstration of how committed you are to your child's best interest and the court's authority.

Consider Seeking Legal Advice

Given the complexities of laws and the stakes involved, consulting with a Colorado child custody lawyer can provide you with invaluable guidance and improve your chances of a favorable outcome.

Why You Need A Colorado Child Custody Lawyer

Expert Navigation through Legal Complexities

They have a deep understanding of these laws and can apply this knowledge to benefit your situation. Plus, they know how to effectively file paperwork, meet deadlines, and communicate with court personnel.

Strategic Planning and Representation

A professional lawyer can effectively help you develop a strategic approach to your case, considering all legal avenues and all defenses. They can provide you with advice on how to present your case in the best light and advocate for your interests. They are also able to negotiate effectively on your behalf, often securing a more favorable outcome than could be achieved alone.

Advocacy and Objective Advice

Their objective is to ensure that the final custody arrangement is in the best interest of your child and supports your parental rights. All by making sure that your actions and decisions are aligned with your long-term goals and your child’s welfare.

Emotional Support and Peace of Mind

Having a legal expert handle the intricacies of your case can alleviate stress, allowing you to focus on your family and personal well-being during a difficult time.

Bonus: Tips for A Solid Parenting Plan

Focus on the Child's Best Interest

Always put your child’s needs first. Keep in mind that your primary goal here is to ensure their happiness, security, and their overall development. Take into account their school, extracurricular activities, and social life when planning schedules to minimize disruption.

Promote Open Communication

Effective communication between parents is key here. Be clear about your expectations and willingness to discuss or adjust as necessary. For clarity and record-keeping, consider using emails or co-parenting apps to communicate about needs and schedule changes.

Be Flexible and Fair

Life is super unpredictable, so your parenting plan should be able to change whenever you need it to–you know, for things like special events, work schedule changes, or any unexpected situations. You should also make sure that both of you get to be part of all the big moments in your child's life, like birthdays, graduations, and other milestones.

That's why it's really important to come up with a plan that's both fair and flexible, so your kid can have the best possible life.

Outline Decision-Making Processes

You must clearly define how decisions regarding education, health care, and religion will be made. Decide if they will be made jointly, independently, or require consultation with the other parent.

It's also a very good idea to come up with a way to solve any problems when you don't agree. You could try talking with someone who can help you work it out, like a mediator or counselor. Note that if you plan ahead and make clear rules, you'll make sure both of you as parents are happy and your kids get what they need, too.

Address Financial Responsibilities

Be explicit about who is responsible for specific financial aspects of your child’s upbringing, including day-to-day expenses, education, medical care, and other extracurricular activities.

Consider Special Circumstances

Develop a fair system for dividing holidays, vacations, and any special occasions. Alternating years is a common approach here. Also, anticipate and make provisions for future issues, such as what happens if one parent wants to relocate.

Again, your goal here is to create a stable and loving environment where your child can thrive no matter what. Remember, you're not alone on this journey. 

Contact Your Local Greenwood Village Child Custody Lawyer

Here at Boney Law Firm, we understand that at the heart of every child custody case is a family seeking stability, clarity, and the assurance that the well-being of their children remains the top priority.

Drawing from our deep pool of experience and knowledge in the terrain of Colorado family law, we can turn this period of transition into a foundation for a brighter future.

Contact Me Today at (303) 819-8786 for a FREE Consultation

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