Family Law

Child Custody FAQ

By September 26, 2017 No Comments

In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at some of the most popular questions concerning child custody in Colorado.

 

Who gets custody of our child?

In Colorado, there isn’t a set of rules that determines who receives custody of the child or children.  However, the court must consider statutory factors before awarding a decision involving minors.

 

What’s the difference between joint custody and sole custody?

Colorado doesn’t have joint or sole custody, but instead, the term parental responsibility is used.  Parental responsibility can either be joint or primary.  Joint parental responsibility is characterized by equally sharing in overnight visitation with the minor.  If one parent maintains less than 90 overnight visitations with the minor, the other parent is maintaining primary parental responsibility.

 

Additionally, Colorado separates decision-making responsibilities from residential responsibilities.  Joint decision-making is when both parents are required to jointly make decisions dealing with education, religion, extracurricular activities, and medicine.  In a sole decision-making situation, one parent is able to make all these decisions without consulting the other parent.

 

If parents share custody, do either of the parents have to pay child support?

This is determined by gross monthly income and other expenses.  A factor of child support is who spends the majority of the time with the child, however it’s not determinative of any support obligation.

 

Can either parent refuse to allow visitation as a result of unpaid child support?

Absolutely not.  Whether child support is paid, it is an entirely independent issue from visitation rights.

 

When can the child decide which parent to live with?

There is no age limit for when a child can decide which parent to live with in Colorado.  Here, the court will hear the child’s wishes and will consider them to the extent that the minor is mature enough to express both reasoned and independent preferences regarding the time schedule.

 

Do grandparents receive custody and visitation rights?

Third parties (including grandparents) do not have visitation rights to the minor, unless an independent action for gaining those rights is started.

 

What’s a parenting plan?

This is a plan that parents give to the court that explicitly states the allocation of parenting time, including holiday visits and other circumstances.  This document is required since it is essential that both parties are aware of the terms.

 

Can child custody and/or support be included in my divorce decree if it’s in my separation agreement?

Yes, they should always be integrated.

 

When will we make a decision on child custody?

The final parenting time decisions are made by the court during Permanent Orders.  At this point, you might receive Temporary Orders to determine parenting time until the parties can agree on a parenting schedule.

 

Can I modify custody?

The parenting plan and the parenting schedule can be changed at any time if the change is in the best interest of the child.  It is important to note that any major changes to parenting time can only be requested if the child’s present environment can be shown to endanger the child’s physical health.

 

We can’t agree on a custody agreement.  What happens now?

If the parents are unable to come to an agreement on a parenting schedule, the court will determine a schedule that it feels is the best for the wellbeing of the minor child.

 

Is it possible to increase my chances of a larger custody agreement?

There are a variety of factors used to determine a parenting visitation.  Throughout this process, it’s helpful to constantly ask, “why is this the best option for my child?” to stay child-focused.

 

What does the term “visitation” mean?

This is parenting time.  Visitation is any time when one parent gets a chance to visit with the minors.

 

Are there different levels of visitation?

Yes, in addition to unsupervised visitation, there is “supervised visitation” and “no visitation.”  The court may issue either of these if it feels that one party is a danger to the child’s physical or emotional health.

 

Is it true that the mother is favored over the father in court?

The court is prohibited from bias due to sex.

 

Am I able to collect my own evidence if my case goes to court?

Yes, you are permitted to collect your own evidence.  Keep in mind, you must adhere to the Rules of Evidence when introducing your proposed evidence.

 

Will my child be required to appear in court?

Most often, no.  Actually, it is discouraged to involve the child in court proceedings.

 

Do I need to hire a Guardian ad Litem/Custody Evaluator?

No, but it can be very helpful to get their services in some cases.

 

For additional questions or guidance through the child custody process, contact the lawyers at Liberty Law Center.