Child Custody and Parenting Time
Child custody issues can be as distressing as they are contentious. When these issues threaten your time and relationship with your child(ren), you need a skilled lawyer on your side who can help you protect your rights and interests.
The Burnham Law Firm has experienced Denver child custody attorneys who can help you. Strategic, tenacious, and compassionate, our attorneys will work with you closely and help you navigate the complicated procedures involving child custody. With our help, you can achieve your goals and protect the best interests of your family. Based on your unique situation, we will develop and implement a game plan to place you in the right direction.
Child Custody Defined: Parenting Time & Decision-Making Authority
In Colorado, child custody refers to two distinct matters:
- Parenting time, pertaining to how physical custody of a child is split between parents
- Decision-making authority, related to the legal rights to make decisions about a child’s upbringing and care.
When it comes to these aspects of child custody, please be aware that:
- Physical and legal custody can be split between parents differently. For instance, while a court may grant one parent primary physical custody of a child, it may also award joint legal custody (splitting up the decision-making responsibilities equally between parents).
- When custody cases involve paternity disputes, paternity testing will usually be ordered by the court before any decisions regarding custody are made.
- Grandparents (and possibly other relatives) may be able to seek custody (or visitation or guardianship) of a child in certain cases.
How is Child Custody Determined?
If parents can agree on how to divide physical and legal custody, a family court will typically review this agreement and formalize it via custody orders. When parents are unable to agree about any aspect of child custody, however, the court may:
- Order parents to attend mediation – Child custody mediation can provide a space for both parents to express their concerns, needs, and goals. Through mediation, parents can work on custody issues in a private, non-court setting. It may not, however, be appropriate or helpful in certain situations (like if either party refuses to compromise).
- Make a child custody determination – When mediation fails to resolve the dispute – When custody issues cannot be resolved out of court, the family court will oversee the case and make the final determination based on the child’s best interests.
Best Interest Factors in Child Custody Cases
To make sure that the child custody arrangement will be in the child’s best interest, Colorado family courts will consider the following factors:
Some of the factors that the family court will consider when determining what will be in the child’s best interests (in terms of how to divide custody) include:
- The requests of each parent.
- The child’s custody preferences (if the child is mature enough to express them).
- The mental and physical health of each parent.
- Each parent’s ability and/or willingness to encourage the child to continue having a positive, loving relationship with the other parent.
- The distance between each parent’s home and whether the child would need to adjust to a new community.
- Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence, abuse, criminal activity or addiction.
Resolving Child Custody Issues: How a Lawyer Can Help
The legal guidance and representation of a Denver attorney at The Burnham Law Firm can be immensely helpful when custody disputes arise. Here’s how our lawyers can help:
- Determine and pursue your best legal options
- Build and present a strong case in and outside the courtroom
- Avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your custody case
- Set your case up for the best possible outcome.
In addition to handling physical and legal custody disputes, our lawyers are experienced at resolving related matters, such as (but not limited to):
- Emergency protective orders
- Child support disputes
- Modifications and terminations of child custody and/or child support.
Know your rights, legal options, and essential facts about child custody, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our offices are strategically located in the Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins allowing us to better assist you in times of need.