Child custody is one of the most contentious aspects of family law in Colorado. To settle these emotionally-charged disputes, the court will typically consider the child’s best interests when determining custody. This is why it’s crucial to have a Colorado child custody lawyer in your corner when the guardianship of your child is hanging in the balance.
At Petrelli Previtera, we have a good reputation handling custody cases like yours, underlined by our 5-star client rating on Google. This means that when you retain us, we will fight to secure your child’s best interests.
We Understand the Concerns of the Colorado Family Law Court
In Colorado, just like other jurisdictions, courts follow the Best Interests of Child (BIC) benchmark when determining custody cases. When making decisions on child custody and parental responsibilities the courts look at the following factors:
- Child’s preference (if he or she is old enough to make independent decisions)
- Each parent’s current financial standing
- The physical and mental health of the parents
- The distance between the parents’ houses
- Previous living arrangements of the child
- Both parents’ work schedules
- Which parent spends the most time with the child
- Whether alcohol abuse or domestic violence has been an issue
- Whether a child is physically challenged, and if so, the ability of each parent to cater to their special needs
Even in situations where the parents are able to agree on child custody and parental decision-making, the courts in Colorado will still intervene to make sure these decisions are in full compliance of the best interests of the child benchmark.
Types of Child Custody Cases in Colorado: The Lowdown
The courts in Colorado typically use the term “parental responsibilities” when referring to “custody.” Generally, though, there are two broader categories of child custody cases in Colorado:
- Legal custody
- Physical custody
Legal custody means the right to make critical decisions regarding the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, etc. In Colorado, legal custody is typically referred to as the “allocation of decision-making responsibilities,” and can be categorized into either sole or joint custody.
Sole legal custody is where one parent retains the right to make life-impacting decisions regarding the child. Often, a court will favor sole legal custody if it believes the parents cannot mutually agree on a custody plan that’s in the child’s best interests. Under a joint legal custody arrangement, both parents are allowed to make decisions about the child’s life. Most courts in Denver will prefer to award joint legal custody as opposed to sole legal custody, but only on one condition—that the parents remain in constant contact with each other so they’re able to make critical child-related decisions.
Physical custody has a different name in Colorado, and that is “parenting time.” A Denver parent can only claim to have physical custody of a child if he or she spends the most time with the child (i.e. lives with them). As with legal custody, physical custody can either be sole or joint custody. Again, Colorado courts will always prefer to award joint physical custody for the following reasons:
- The child enjoys a more stable, peaceful living environment
- The child gets to spend ample time with both parents
- The arrangement provides the child with a more regular lifestyle and routine
In the court’s eyes, these three reasons adequately meet the best interests of the child benchmark. However, the court will not hesitate to award sole physical custody if one parent has a criminal record or a history of alcohol misuse, physical abuse, or neglect.
When Is the Perfect Time to File for Child Custody in Colorado?
Child custody (or the allocation of parental responsibilities) in Colorado is typically awarded under two circumstances:
- If the two parties have never been married before
- In the event of a divorce
It is in your best interest to file for a court-ordered custody if you’re no longer cohabiting with your partner with whom you have a child and are unable to come to an amicable agreement regarding the child’s primary caretaker. Withholding the child from the other parent can be detrimental in the long run—as such, getting a court order from the get-go is important.
Similarly, if you suspect the other parent is subjecting your child to abuse or neglect, move swiftly to protect their safety by filing for custody. Either way, it’s wise to consult with an award-winning Denver child custody attorney so that you know how best to approach matters.
Answering Your Most Pressing Questions about Child Custody in Colorado
At Petrelli Previtera, we’re well aware you’ll have many questions throughout your child custody case. We draw on our decades-long experience representing families just like yours to provide timely, satisfactory, well-thought-out answers that leave your mind at peace.
- Some of your most pertinent questions might include:
- What does a normal out-of-state parenting schedule look like?
- Can grandparents with visitation rights keep me from leaving Colorado?
- My ex isn’t following a court-ordered visitation arrangement. What should I do?
- If I have custody, can I make decisions regarding my child’s education?
- How old does my child have to be to decide where she wants to live?
- Can I seek custody of my niece and nephew?
As simple as these questions might look, they might bear great significance to the final outcome of your custody case. So it’s important that you pose them early on in the process. We’ll always be ready and willing to listen.
Award-Winning Denver Child Custody Attorneys You Can Count On
Not many family law firms in Denver can say they’ve been an honoree of the prestigious Inc. 5000 magazine for three years in a row, but Petrelli Previtera can. We pride ourselves in offering aggressive representation coupled with compassionate and dedicated advocacy, and we are ready to listen to you. Why wait when you can start getting answers, direction, and clarity for your situation right away? Contact us today at (303) 416-7086 to schedule your first comprehensive consultation with our team.