“Parenting time” is a term in family law. It refers to the time a parent spends with their child following a divorce or separation. Parenting time is a key aspect of child custody cases. The court’s decisions about parenting time will directly impact the relationship between the parent and child. This can, in turn, have a major impact on the child’s overall well-being and development.
A court order after a divorce will endeavor to provide for a fair and healthy division of parenting duties, including parenting time. The court wants to find a solution that suits all parties involved. It must also prioritize the needs and well-being of the minor children involved above all else. Calculating parenting time (and child support) involves a complex combination of state guidelines and subjective evaluations by a judge.
There are several potential reasons to modify parenting time. Most involve one of two basic categories:
Colorado courts put the interests of the child first. However, circumstances can change over time. An order for parenting time may no longer fit your situation, an ex-spouse’s lifestyle, or the needs of the minor children involved. If so, a skilled family law attorney can help you request a modification to your Colorado parenting time order.
A modification to parenting time can be extremely significant. For example, one parent gets full custody when the other moves away. They can also be quite minor, such as parents trading days of the week because the child has sports practices that conflict with one parent’s work schedule.
Some common reasons for requesting a modification to a parenting time order include:
Under Colorado law, whichever court issued the original orders has the authority to decide whether to change the visitation order. In most Colorado family law cases, you will have to return to the original court to get any previous order changed, even if you have since moved into a different jurisdiction.
Fighting for a modification to an existing parenting time or child custody order can be an extremely complex and long-term process. While every case will be different, there are some basic steps that any modification will typically follow:
A modification to an order of this sort is usually sought because one parent wants to spend more time with their kids. However, a modification can also be used to restrict one parent’s access to the children if there is a threat of imminent danger.
The natural rights of parents to raise their children are taken extremely seriously by the court. Authorities will only restrict a parent’s time with their child if they find the threat of danger to be legitimate and demonstrable. This imminent harm can be either physical or mental. Any behaviors or actions that endanger the child’s physical well-being, or impair their emotional development, may qualify to have parenting time reduced by the court.
If you believe that an existing order for parenting time is placing your child in imminent danger, you can express this belief in your motion with the court. If the court proceeds with your motion, a special hearing will occur. You and your ex, or your respective legal teams, will present your side to the court. This is a fast-moving process due to the potential of a child being placed at risk. These hearings are held within two weeks of the initial filing being accepted. The court will consider all evidence, testimony, and any criminal history when determining whether to restrict the parent’s access.
It is important to remember that you and your child’s other parent can always agree to change the parenting plan together. The courts generally encourage this collaborative approach. It keeps more control in the hands of your child’s parents, sets a great example for your healing children, and sets the stage for healthy co-parenting.
If you and your ex cannot engage in productive collaboration, but you both are committed to doing what is right for your family as it restructures, you might consider hiring a mediator. They can help you work through parenting time and visitation schedule changes outside of court. This can save time, money, and stress.
A: You generally need to go to court to officially modify a parenting plan. However, if both parents agree on the changes to be made, they can submit a written agreement to the court for quick approval. Mediation can be a good avenue for achieving this outcome. Minor, one-time changes usually do not need court approval as well.
A: There is no set limit on how often you can modify parenting time orders in Colorado. The well-being of minor children is the top priority in these cases. Therefore, orders can be amended as often as a judge deems appropriate to keep the children involved safe and well provided for. However, courts generally prefer to see stability and consistency in co-parenting situations. Frequent modifications, or frequent requests for such, may be viewed unfavorably by judges and other officials.
A: If you receive a motion to modify parenting time in Colorado, it is important to respond promptly and effectively. If you do not feel equipped to handle this on your own, you should work with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you:
A: In Colorado, there is no specific age at which a (minor) child can legally refuse to see a parent by their own choice. However, as children get older, their wishes and preferences may be given more weight by the court. They will also be considered by their parents, who find it less and less possible to compel them to do things or go places they are not interested in. Ultimately, the court can consider many factors when defining a child’s interests. Sometimes, this will include the child’s own thoughts and feelings. This is especially true when the child in question is mature enough to express valid, well-considered reasons for their desire to stay with one parent or the other.
Modifying parenting time in Colorado can be a complex and emotional legal process. It can revive all the stress and sadness of the original divorce and custody proceedings. It is crucial to seek legal guidance and representation from the powerful legal team at Johnson Law Group of Denver. We can help parents protect their rights, keep their emotional distance from the legal process, and ensure that their child’s interests are always being served. Contact us today for a compassionate, no-pressure review of your circumstances.