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Navigating Child Custody Processes and Challenges in Colorado

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Custody Process in Colorado Courts

The custody process in Colorado courts begins with filing a motion for custody at the local court. This can be initiated by one or both parents or in some cases, by a third party. The court then sets a hearing date where all parties present their case.

Before the court hearing, both parents may undergo mediation, which is a constructive way to resolve disputes and reach an agreement on custody matters. In Colorado, mediation is often mandated before a court hearing to encourage a cooperative resolution. It’s facilitated by a neutral third party who aids in communication and negotiation, striving to reach an agreement that best serves the child’s interests.

If mediation doesn’t result in a mutually agreeable resolution, the case proceeds to a court hearing. During the hearing, the court considers evidence presented by each party, including but not limited to, testimonies, financial records, character references, and in some cases, the child’s own wishes.

Legal representation plays a pivotal role in this process. A family law attorney can advise on legal rights, present your case effectively, and navigate the complexities of the legal system. They can argue on matters such as the child’s best interests, parental responsibilities, and visitation rights. It’s important to remember that every case is unique, and the outcome of the custody process largely depends on each situation’s specifics.

Modification of Custody Arrangements

In certain situations, custody arrangements in Colorado can be modified post-judgment. Common circumstances under which modifications might happen include relocation of one parent, changes in the child’s needs, or alterations in the parent’s ability to provide care.

To request a modification, the parent or legal guardian must submit a petition for modification to the court that originally issued the custody order. This petition should clearly outline the reasons for the requested change and how it serves the child’s best interest. The court reviews the petition, the child’s current circumstances, and any other pertinent information before deciding.

Case examples vary greatly, highlighting the individual nature of custody cases. In one instance, a modification was granted after the mother relocated for work, necessitating a change in the custody schedule. Conversely, a father’s request for modification was denied as he failed to provide compelling evidence that the change would significantly benefit the child. These examples underscore that courts prioritize the child’s welfare above all else when considering modifications to custody arrangements.

Areas of Conflict and Common Challenges in Colorado Child Custody Cases

While the laws in Colorado aim to provide a fair framework for parenting after separation , there are common challenges that parents may face during custody battles. It is important to recognize these challenges and navigate them with informed decision-making. Here are some areas of conflict, common challenges, and advice for parents:

    child running toward car

  1. Allocation of Parenting Time: Disagreements often arise regarding the allocation of parenting time. Common challenges include disputes over flexible work schedules or the child’s preference. This can include a child who may be refusing to see a parent. To navigate this challenge, parents need to communicate openly, consider the child’s best interests, and potentially seek mediation or professional guidance.
  2. Physical and Legal Custody: Physical custody refers to where the child lives, and disputes may arise if one parent wants to relocate with the child. Legal custody, which involves making major decisions for the child, can become contentious when parents have conflicting values or beliefs. Parents must prioritize open communication, compromise when possible, and seek legal guidance if necessary.
  3. Medical Decisions: Conflicts may occur if one parent’s beliefs clash with recommended medical treatments or interventions for the child. To navigate this challenge, parents should strive for open and respectful communication, consult with medical professionals, and consider the child’s best interests when making decisions.
  4. Religious Upbringing: When parents belong to different faiths or have different religious beliefs, decisions about a child’s religious education can become a significant source of dispute. Parents need to respect each other’s beliefs, prioritize the child’s well-being, and potentially seek mediation or legal guidance to find a resolution.

Advice for Navigating These Challenges:

  • Maintain open and respectful communication with the other parent.
  • Focus on the child’s best interests and prioritize their well-being.
  • Consider seeking mediation or professional guidance to resolve conflicts.
  • Consult with legal professionals to understand your rights and responsibilities.
  • Document any agreements or decisions reached to ensure clarity and accountability.

By acknowledging these potential areas of conflict and employing proactive strategies, parents can navigate custody battles more effectively and prioritize the best interests of their child.

Navigating the Resolution Process in Child Custody Disputes

Navigating child custody disputes in Colorado requires patience, understanding, and a commitment to prioritizing the child’s well-being above all. Regardless of the nature of the conflict, be it related to parenting time, physical or legal custody, medical decisions or religious upbringing, resolution processes are available. These can be facilitated through mediation, arbitration, or, as a last resort, through court intervention. Let’s delve into these resolution mechanisms, their advantages, and potential challenges.


Litigation is a formal process where a judge decides on custody matters. This option can be necessary when parents cannot reach an agreement independently. However, litigation can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining. The benefit here is a legally binding decision made by an impartial third party based on the child’s best interests.

Negotiated Agreements with Legal Representatives

Negotiated agreements involve both parents working with their respective legal representatives to reach a mutual agreement. The benefits of this method are numerous: it’s generally faster, less stressful, and more cost-effective than litigation. It also allows parents to control the decisions impacting their child, rather than leaving these decisions to a judge.


Mediation is another viable option for resolving custody disputes. In this process, a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates discussions between the parents to help them agree. Mediation fosters communication and cooperation, which can be crucial for maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship post-separation. It is a voluntary process and decisions reached are not legally binding unless formalized into a custody agreement.


Arbitration resembles litigation in that a third party makes a final decision. However, it’s usually a quicker and less formal process. One downside is that the arbitrator’s decision is binding and not easily appealable.

Each method of resolution has its own benefits and should be considered in light of the unique circumstances of each case. It’s advisable for parents to seek legal counsel to understand the implications and select the most appropriate course of action.

Recent Changes and Trends in Colorado Custody Law

Colorado has seen significant developments in recent years in the ever-evolving landscape of family law. Notably, the legislature passed a bill in 2016 creating a presumption of joint custody, reflecting a trend towards shared parenting responsibilities.

Furthermore, there has been a noticeable shift in the mindset of courts favoring neither parent based on gender. The traditional presumption favoring mothers in custody battles is diminishing, reflecting Colorado’s forward-thinking stance on promoting equal parental rights. This evolution signifies Colorado’s step towards becoming a “father’s rights state,” fostering an environment where both parents receive equal opportunity to be involved in their child’s life post-separation or divorce.

A landmark case illustrating this trend is In Re: Marriage of Berkenkotter, where the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s decision awarding equal parenting time despite the mother’s objections. This case underscores the court’s commitment to uphold the child’s best interests, with a default position of equal parental responsibility unless proven otherwise.

The implications of these changes are profound, impacting the dynamics of family structure and advancing the recognition of the fundamental role both parents play in a child’s upbringing.

Get Support From Top Denver Child Custody Attorneys

At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we have established ourselves as one of the leading divorce firms in Denver. Our reputation is built on our commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest laws and best practices in divorce law. When you choose our firm, you can trust that you are getting the best legal representation for your case. Our experienced lawyers are dedicated to protecting your interests and fighting for your rights. We focus on collaboration and strategic planning to achieve the best results for our clients. We take pride in offering customized solutions and top-of-the-line customer service. To get the legal counsel you need, please contact us today at 866-465-5395. Let the team at Petrelli Previtera, LLC handle the complexities of your divorce case in the Denver area, while you focus on what matters most: yourself, your future, and your children’s well-being.

We Have the Answers You Need!

When it comes to the child custody process in Colorado, you need an attorney who can provide clarity and direction. At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, our team has years of experience supporting clients in child custody cases. We are dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process, ensuring that you have the answers you need. From comprehensive support to answering your questions, we bring clarity to the chaos and help you achieve a positive outcome. Contact us today at (303) 416-7086 or schedule a consultation to see how we can assist you.

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Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

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My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

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My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

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