Colorado Child Custody Attorneys
Helping to Provide Long-Term Stability for Your Child
Child custody is perhaps the most contested element of any divorce proceeding, as well it should be—it decides how parents will raise their child and can determine a child’s well-being for the rest of their life. Learn more about Colorado child custody laws by reading further or calling our Denver child custody lawyers at (303) 622-5502 for a consultation.
The Harris Law Firm takes child custody and visitation cases very seriously. We know the deep emotional needs a family has, which is why we prioritize the child’s emotional health in every custody case. Our highly-skilled family law team provides creative solutions that can build something new and beneficial out of your current family situation.
When we work with clients on child custody agreements, we fight for the benefit of the child and the family as a whole. Our aim is to create an agreement that is good for all parties involved—for the children and both the parents. Our firm recognizes that the ideal situation includes both parents. Whenever possible, we create equitable solutions that allow both parents to work cooperatively for the sake of their child.
How Does Child Custody Work in Colorado?
Custody is divided into two areas: legal and physical.
This type of custody is simple, as it refers primarily to with whom the child lives. Physical custody also means this parent will be obligated to care for the child’s physical, emotional, and social needs directly (e.g. food, shelter, community involvement, school transportation).
Physical custody can be split, but because it puts an undue strain on the child, this is usually only true for parents who live nearby to each other.
This type of custody refers to the right to make decisions in the upbringing of a child. This includes how a child is educated, what religion the child is raised in, and decisions regarding non-emergency healthcare.
Most courts prefer parents to have joint legal custody, even when a child spends the majority of their time with one parent. However, that is not always beneficial to the child.
What Types of Custody Arrangements Are There?
There are many types of custody arrangements, including:
- Alternating—The parents alternate having sole physical and legal custody
- Shared—The parents share legal custody, but alternate physical custody
- Joint—Both parents have simultaneous physical and legal custody
- Sole—One parent alone has physical and legal custody
- Split—Parents each have full, sole custody over certain children in the marriage
The primary doctrine by which courts will craft a child custody agreement will depend on what is in the child’s “best interests.” If the court determines that it is better for one parent to have sole legal and physical custody, then they will grant these powers to one parent alone.
Thankfully, custody is not a zero-sum game. State law supports the idea that a child’s health is best supported by the presence of both parents. A parent with whom the child does not live is called “noncustodial,” and the resident parent is “custodial.”
Colorado Child Custody FAQs
Can children choose where they live?
Colorado courts can and sometimes do consider the preference of children when determining custody and where a child will primarily reside. However, a child’s preference is only one of many factors considered by courts. Judges will still have discretion when awarding custody, and will still consider the ability of each parent to provide a safe home, their work schedules and living conditions, the geographic location of each parent, and what is ultimately in the child’s best interests, among other factors.
Who gets the kids during a divorce?
That depends. During a divorce, parents may come to a mutual agreement about child custody and parenting time. If these arrangements provide safety and stability to a child’s life, they will be approved by courts. If there are other circumstances or disputes, however, parents may need to seek temporary custody orders, which can address physical custody and the right to make important decisions for a child while a case is pending, as well as child support.
Can I change a child custody agreement?
If a child custody agreement has already been established by the court, either as the result of a divorce or a stand-alone custody case, there may be options to modify the agreement.
However, Colorado courts do not freely grant post-decree modifications of child custody; 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.
How does COVID-19 impact child custody in Colorado?
COVID-19 has had far-reaching repercussions on Colorado courts and family law cases. In addition to attending hearings or visitation virtually, parents may struggle with effectively co-parenting with a parent who doesn’t share their views on social distancing, mask wearing, and parenting time during the pandemic. While this is a unique time and laws are evolving, parents still have obligations to comply with court orders.
At The Harris Law Firm, our attorneys are closely tracking the pandemic’s impact on cases involving child custody and other aspects of family law. You can find more COVID-19 resources on our blog, or by calling us to discuss a potential case.
Are you looking for custody representation in Denver, Colorado Springs, or anywhere else throughout Colorado? Contact The Harris Law Firm to ask a legal question or schedule a consultation!