In cases of child custody, the courts consider many different factors. These may include whether a parent is seeking to change an existing custody agreement, whether they had children outside of marriage, and whether they are currently married and filing for divorce, among mitigating elements.
Although many factors come into play, there are five basic steps that a person must take when filing for custody in the state of Colorado.
In this scenario, sole custody may be the best option. If this is the case, only one parent has the authority to make decisions regarding extracurricular activities, religion, health, and education. The filing party will likely need to outline in the Petition what they believe is in the children’s best interests and explain why.
The individual must visit the district court in the county where their children live to file these forms. The district court clerk will provide the individual with a “Case Management Order” that details any other forms they will need, as well as the upcoming court dates.
In Colorado, it is important to understand the correct legal terminology for child custody laws. The state abolished the use of the phrases “physical custody” and “legal custody” in 1999. The term “parental responsibilities” is the proper term today, and it can be broken down into three categories. These three “types of custody” include child support, decision-making, and parenting time.
As in any legal matter, the specifics of each unique case dictate the length of time the process will take. However, if the custody arrangement is related to a dissolution of marriage, that case must be pending for no less than 91 days before a decree is issued by the court. After this three-month waiting period, the divorce can be finalized, and the child custody agreement can be settled.
When a couple is unmarried in CO, the father is not given full parenting rights automatically in most cases. Even when the father has been present at the child’s birth and has signed the birth certificate, legal custody of the child is typically bestowed upon the mother.
In many cases, the goal of the courts is to award some type of shared custody to the parents; this is often best for the children. There are, however, common grounds for being awarded full custody in CO. These include the legal incarceration of one parent, proven records of child abandonment, a history of one parent’s substance abuse, physical abuse, or irresponsibility, and a parent terminating their parental rights.
In Colorado, the process starts by filing a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. A parent will need to complete this document when they file for custody, along with paying a filing fee of $222. If an individual has already been granted custody of their children in another state, they must register in CO to be valid. The filing fee for this registration is $166.
Parents often don’t know where to turn when they are faced with issues regarding the custody of their children. Tensions between the parents may cloud judgment, and the courts may need to step in to determine what is best for the family. Our knowledgeable team can walk you through every step of the process and help you to navigate the complexities of the court system. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you.