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Child Custody

About Child Custody and Parental Responsibilities

In any family law case involving children, the issue of child custody will have to be addressed. You may hear lawyers, parents, and even judges referring to this type of child care decision process as “child custody” or “visitation.” However, Colorado law no longer refers to it as such, but rather “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.” This is divided into two parts: parenting time (physical custody) and decision-making responsibility (legal custody). Like many situations regarding divorce and family law, every case is unique and no single child custody plan works for every situation. The experienced child custody lawyers at The Gasper Law Group can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.

If you are involved in a disputed child custody case or going through a divorce, it is important to understand that courts have significant discretion when making determinations about the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. For this reason, it is important for you to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. 

To set up a FREE initial consultation to discuss your case with our skilled Colorado Springs child custody lawyers, give is a call at (719) 212-2448 or contact us online today.

Practicing Law In Colorado Springs FOR OVER 20 YEARS
Set up a FREE initial consultation with our office today. Discuss your case with our Colorado Springs Lawyers at
(719) 212-2448 or complete our contact form.

How Physical Custody is Decided in Colorado

Parenting time, or physical custody, refers to the actual time that parents spend with their children. When making decisions about how parenting time will be allocated between parents, courts look to the best interests of the child. Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-124, a court will consider the following factors when determining the best interests of the child for the purposes of allocating parenting time:

  • The wishes of the parents
  • The child’s wishes (if they are mature enough to express independent and reasonable preferences)
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with their siblings, parents, and anyone else who may significantly affect the child’s best interests
  • The child’s adjustment to their home, community, and school
  • The mental and physical health of everyone involved (however, a disability cannot be used by itself to limit or deny parenting time)
  • The willingness of both parties to keep things amicable and encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party (except in cases where the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence)
  • Whether the way in which the parties have been involved with the child in the past reflects a system of values, mutual support, and the commitment of time
  • How close the parties involved with the case live from one another as this related to the practical issues of shared parenting time
  • Whether each party can prioritize the child’s needs over their own needs

How a Custody Attorney Can Help You

A custody attorney, also known as a family law attorney, specializes in legal matters related to child custody and visitation rights. Here are some ways a custody attorney can help you:

  • Legal Advice: A custody attorney can provide you with legal advice on your rights and responsibilities regarding child custody and visitation.
  • Negotiation: Your attorney can negotiate with the other party or their attorney to reach a custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child.
  • Court Representation: If you are unable to reach an agreement, your attorney can represent you in court proceedings to determine custody and visitation arrangements.
  • Document Preparation: Your attorney can help you prepare and file the necessary legal documents, such as custody petitions and parenting plans.
  • Mediation: In some cases, your attorney may recommend mediation as a way to resolve custody disputes amicably.
  • Enforcement: If the other party violates a custody order, your attorney can help you enforce the order and seek remedies through the court.
  • Modification: If circumstances change and you need to modify an existing custody order, your attorney can help you file a petition for modification.
  • Protection: Your attorney can help protect your rights and interests throughout the custody process, ensuring that the best interests of the child are prioritized.

Overall, a custody attorney can provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need to navigate the complexities of child custody and visitation laws and ensure that your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.

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How Legal Custody is Decided in Colorado

Courts also consider the best interests of the child when making determinations about how to allocate decision-making responsibilities between parents. Decision-making responsibility, or legal custody, refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions regarding medical treatment, religion, education, and extracurricular activities. In determining the best interests of the child with respect to decision-making responsibilities, a judge will consider the same factors as when making decisions about parenting time, as well as the following:

  • The ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly
  • The pattern of involvement of the parties with the child in the past, and whether or not it reflects an ability to make decisions that will provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child
  • Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on a number of issues will promote continuing contact between the child and each of the parents

A history of domestic violence or child abuse carries additional and special considerations for the court when it comes to decision-making authority. If there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse in your case, you should discuss the matter with your attorney.

What Makes a Parent Unfit in Colorado?

In Colorado, determining parental fitness is a critical aspect of child custody and visitation decisions. An unfit parent may be found unfit by a court, affecting their ability to have custody or unsupervised visitation. There are several factors including: 

  • Substance Abuse: A parent who has a history of substance abuse, particularly when it threatens the child's well-being, may be deemed unfit as a parent.
  • Domestic Violence: Evidence of domestic violence, whether directed towards the child or the other parent, may result in a finding of unfitness.
  • Child Endangerment: Conditions or behaviors that endanger the child's physical or emotional well-being, such as neglect, abuse, or exposing the child to dangerous environments, can lead to a determination of unfitness.
  • Mental Health Issues: Untreated or severe mental health issues that interfere with the ability to provide proper care and support for the child may impact a parent's fitness.
  • Criminal Activity: Engaging in criminal activities, especially those that can pose a risk to the child, can be considered in evaluating parental fitness.
  • Failure to Comply with Court Orders: Consistently failing to adhere to court orders, including visitation schedules or custody arrangements, may reflect negatively on parental fitness.

It's important to note that the court considers the best interests of the child when determining parental fitness, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Seeking legal advice from an experienced Colorado Springs child custody attorney is crucial for parents navigating custody disputes to ensure their rights are protected and the child's well-being is prioritized.

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Colorado Child Custody Laws

In Colorado, Parental Responsibility can be primary or joint. Colorado law recognizes that it is generally in a child’s best interest to have frequent contact with both parents and to have both parents participate in child-rearing. Typically, if a parent has less than 90 overnight visits with the child, the court considers the other parent to have primary parental responsibility. If you and the other parent have an equal amount of overnight visits with the child, the court considers you both to share joint parental responsibility. Contrary to popular belief, neither parent begins the process with a greater right to custody than the other.

Child Custody Modification

If the court has already established a child custody agreement through a divorce or a stand-alone custody case, there may be options to modify the agreement. However, parents must prove modifications will benefit a child, and that they are justified due to changing circumstances. This may include changes to a child’s physical or emotional needs, a parent’s injury or illness, criminal activity or domestic violence, parental relocation, and other major life changes.

Contact Our Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyers

Disputes regarding the allocation of parental responsibility and visitation can be difficult to resolve and are often the most emotional legal issues families face. For this reason, it is extremely important for parents who are involved in a child custody dispute to retain an experienced custody lawyer as soon as possible.

From child custody modification to establishing paternity, our family law attorneys in Colorado Springs can help you understand your rights. The Gasper Law Group has handled countless child custody arrangements and disputes and can advocate for what’s best for the child and you.

For a free consultation with a Colorado Springs child custody attorney, call us at (719) 212-2448 or complete our contact form.

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