Child Custody & Parenting Time Attorney in Castle Rock, Colorado
According to statistics from the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book, about 338,000 children live in single-parent families in Colorado. Child custody and parenting time are among the most crucial—and emotional—divorce matters that must be resolved before a divorce can be finalized.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce or you're already in the process and want to know how child custody is decided, consulting with an experienced Colorado family law attorney is critical for detailed guidance. At the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, we're committed to offering experienced legal counsel and reliable advocacy to clients in family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and parenting time. Our skilled attorney is available to discuss your unique situation and help you understand how child custody and visitation schedules are determined.
The Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC is proud to serve individuals and families across Castle Rock, Colorado, and surrounding areas of Larkspur, Lone Tree, Parker, Franktown, Highland Ranch, Castle Pines, Elizabeth, Centennial, and Kiowa.
Establishing a Child
Under Colorado laws, parental rights and custody issues are often determined based on the best interest and welfare of the child. Depending on the surrounding circumstances, child custody issues may be settled through any of these options:
An uncontested parental arrangement allows both parents to establish custody in a seamless and peaceful manner. Both parents will work together and draft mutually acceptable terms and conditions for custody. The agreed-upon terms will be presented to the Colorado court to be officially approved. Generally, uncontested custody offers a quick, cost-efficient, and hassle-free option. An experienced divorce attorney can help protect your legal rights and keep the conversation productive and on track.
Conversely, contested custody occurs when both parents are unable to agree on one or more custody terms. In such situations, the Colorado family court may be called upon. During the hearing, a judge will listen to both parents and issue a final order establishing custody. Child custody arrangements will be established based on the child's best interest. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help present your case diligently and improve your chances of the most favorable custody arrangement for your family.
Primary Parental Responsibility
vs. Joint Parental Responsibility
In Colorado, the legal "custody" or "allocation of parental responsibilities" (APR) determines the amount of parenting time that either parent will get. Parental responsibility may be classified into two categories: sole and joint arrangements.
Sole Parental Responsibility
Sole or primary parental responsibility occurs when only one parent gets exclusive physical and legal custody rights to the child. Here, only the custodial parent will be allowed to make crucial decisions affecting the child. However, the other parent (non-custodial parent) may get visitation rights.
Joint Parental Responsibility
In joint parental responsibility, both parents will share the legal and physical custody rights. Both parents are considered custodial parents and can make major life decisions regarding the child, including education, healthcare, and religion.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
Additionally, child custody in a Colorado divorce can be categorized into two elements: physical and legal custody.
Physical custody deals with the routine daily care and control of a child. The parent with physical custody will determine where the child lives and make decisions about the child's daily activities. The custodial parent will bathe, prepare meals, discipline the child, and take the child to school, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities.
Legal custody involves a parent's rights and responsibilities with respect to the child's upbringing. The parent with legal custody will make major decisions about the child, such as the child's religious training, education, health care, joining the military, and extracurricular activities.
Factors Considered in
Colorado courts presume that it is often in the best interests of the child to maintain regular contact with both parents. This ensures that both parties will participate in their child's life and upbringing. Under Colorado law, the court will consider the following factors to allocate parental rights based on the child's best interests:
The child's reasonable wishes or preference
Both parent's wishes
The mental and physical health of the child and both parents
The relationships between parents, siblings, extended family, and parents' significant others
The school, community, and home the child is accustomed to
The type of custody arrangement that will offer ample time with each parent
The ability of both parents to cooperate, collaborate and encourage positive relationships between the child and the other parent
The distance between both parents' homes
Each parent's willingness to make their child's best interests a priority
The ability of each parent to make decisions together to benefit the child
The parents' behavior in the past, such as keeping commitments, spending time with the child, personal values, and supporting the child and the other parent
A Colorado child custody attorney can evaluate your personal situation and work intelligently with both parties to address and resolve custody issues amicably.
Modifying an Existing
Child Custody Arrangement
In Colorado, child custody and decision-making orders may only be modified every two years, except:
If the court determines that waiting (for two years) would endanger the child's emotional development or health
You want to change the child's main residence
Additionally, the requesting parent must show that the existing custody arrangements may expose the child to physical danger or emotional impairment if it is allowed to continue. An experienced attorney can explore your possible legal options to modify the existing child custody order and help you find a path forward.
Child Custody Attorney Serving Castle Rock, CO
If you need to establish or modify a child custody arrangement, contact the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC today to schedule a simple consultation. Our attorney can offer you the personalized legal counsel and genuine advocacy you need to navigate key decisions. We're proud to serve clients across Castle Rock, Larkspur, Lone Tree, Parker, Franktown, Highland Ranch, Castle Pines, Elizabeth, Centennial, Kiowa, and the rest of Colorado.