What To Know If You Share Child Custody

Share Child Custody – What You Should Know

Divorcing parents in Colorado who share child custody must navigate a series of legal guidelines and court requirements to ensure that the best interests of the children are met.

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The following details outline the key aspects of child custody arrangements in Colorado

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Types of Custody

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about the child’s life, including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Colorado law generally favors joint legal custody, meaning both parents share these decision-making responsibilities. This is also known as “parental responsibility.”

Physical Custody

Physical custody pertains to where the child will live. Joint physical custody means the child spends significant time with both parents, though this does not necessarily imply an equal split. Sole physical custody indicates the child resides primarily with one parent, while the other parent typically has visitation rights.

Factors Considered by Courts

In Colorado, courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody arrangements. The factors considered include:

  1. Child’s Wishes: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, the court may consider their preferences.
  2. Parental Ability: Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s emotional, mental, and physical needs.
  3. Parent-Child Relationship: The quality and nature of the relationship between the child and each parent.
  4. Parenting Time: The amount of time each parent has spent with the child prior to the divorce and the level of involvement in the child’s life.
  5. Stability: The importance of maintaining continuity in the child’s life, including the stability of the home environment.
  6. Parental Cooperation: The ability of the parents to cooperate and make decisions jointly.
  7. Health: The physical and mental health of all parties involved.
  8. History of Violence or Abuse: Any history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect.

Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a critical document required by Colorado courts in divorce cases involving children. This plan outlines how parental responsibilities will be divided and must include:

  1. Custody Arrangement: Detailed schedule for physical custody, including holidays, vacations, and special occasions.
  2. Decision-Making Responsibilities: Clarification of which parent will make significant decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
  3. Dispute Resolution: Methods for resolving future disputes regarding the parenting plan, often involving mediation.
  4. Communication: Guidelines for how parents will communicate with each other and the child.

Modification of Custody Orders

Colorado law allows for the modification of custody orders if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affect the child’s best interests. Common reasons for modification include:

  1. Relocation: One parent’s move that significantly affects the existing custody arrangement.
  2. Change in Parental Circumstances: Changes in the physical or mental health of a parent, job changes, or new relationships.
  3. Child’s Needs: Evolving needs of the child as they grow older.
  4. Non-Compliance: If one parent consistently fails to adhere to the custody agreement.

Mediation

Colorado encourages the use of mediation to resolve custody disputes. Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third party helps the parents reach an agreement without going to court. It is often less adversarial and can be a faster and less expensive way to settle disagreements.

Enforcement

If a parent does not comply with a custody order, the other parent can file a motion with the court for enforcement. Potential penalties for non-compliance include fines, modifications to the custody order, and, in severe cases, jail time.

Share Child Custody

Divorcing parents in Colorado must navigate a structured legal framework designed to prioritize the best interests of the children. By understanding the types of custody, factors considered by courts, the necessity of a parenting plan, and options for mediation and enforcement, parents can better prepare for and manage the complexities of shared custody arrangements. It is often advisable for parents to seek legal counsel to ensure their rights and their children’s welfare are adequately protected throughout the divorce process.

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