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In Colorado, custody and visitation matters are driven by what is in the best interest of the child. This standard directs the court to consider a variety of factors, including the child’s relationship with both parents and other people in his or her life; the mental and physical health of everyone involved; the child’s adjustment to home, school and community life; and whether there has ever been any domestic violence in the home.
The child will live with whomever the primary parent is, and the other parent will receive visitation. A typical visitation schedule is every other weekend, part of the summer vacation and alternating or assigned major holidays. Proximity is a factor in these decisions; it is not in the best interest of the child to split his or her time evenly between two homes if the homes are more than an hour apart. If the parents live in different states or countries, weekend visits are not an option, and the visitation parent will likely get more time with the child over vacation and break periods. The responsibility of driving between homes is usually split between both parents, as is the cost of travel for children with parents in different states or countries.
The decisions made regarding visitation and custody will go into a document known as the parenting plan. You and the other parent can create a parenting plan together for the court to approve if you can reach an agreement. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you will need to go to the court and the judge will decide for you. Keep in mind that the court may not use your proposed parenting plans if you and the other parent are unable to complete one together. Instead, the judge can create one of his or her own, and you and the other parent will be expected to follow it.
A parenting plan should be as comprehensive as possible, addressing expense allotment, major holidays and more. With a solid parenting plan, you and the other parent will have a guide for your co-parenting relationship, and it may help you avoid disagreements that land you back in court down the line. It can also help ease you and the other parent into your new co-parenting situation. Your attorney can help you craft a plan that covers as many issues as possible. Contact Burnham Law for help with your parenting plan today.
Child support is money paid by one parent to the other for the child’s daily, medical and educational needs. In Colorado, this amount is determined by the combination of both parents’ income, how much parenting time each parent has and other expenses the child has, such as health insurance premiums and daycare costs. Extraordinary expenses, such as private school tuition being paid by a parent, can affect the final support award as well. A child support order should be reasonable, fair and provide for your child’s needs. Your family law attorney will help you ensure that your order reflects your child’s needs and the true financial situations of the parties involved.
If circumstances change enough, the court will consider a modification of child support. Generally, the original support order needs to change by at least 10 percent or a parent must request that health insurance premiums are added to the order for the court to look at a modification. Common reasons for modification include a permanent and substantial change in income of either parent, the child changing homes, or the ending of a daycare expense. Modifications only take effect from the day the paperwork requesting them is filed, so if you believe your support will need to be changed, it’s important to move as quickly as possible.
State laws in Colorado prevent one parent from removing the child from the state without permission of a family law judge or the other parent. If you want to relocate, there are steps you would need to follow, and your parenting plan would need to reflect that reality. You cannot move the child far away from the other parent without approval, and attempting to do so during your divorce could harm your custody case.
When children are involved in a divorce, the process becomes more complex and emotional for everyone involved. Contact an experienced Colorado family law attorney today so you can explore all of your options and protect the interests of your children throughout your divorce.