Determining a parenting plan in a child custody case is often one of the most challenging and heart-wrenching aspects of a divorce. While you can work to recover financial assets, the time you lose with your children can never be regained.

Children also undergo a lot of pressure and upheaval during a divorce. They may have to move, split time between parents, or adjust to a whole new life. Our priority is to ensure that any parenting plan meets their needs and is in their best interest.

Whenever possible, we recommend coming to a plan that both the parents and the court can agree on. If such a plan cannot be drafted, then the court will make a plan for you.

Joint Legal Custody

The court’s preference is for custody to be shared as equally as possible, as long as there are no extenuating circumstances that make this arrangement impractical or unsafe. In fact, the term “joint custody” is used less frequently than the phrase “shared custody.”

The goal of shared custody is for both parents to share the responsibilities (both time and financial) of raising their children equally. In this arrangement, the parent who earns more money will still provide financial assistance to the other parent. These payments are not considered child support because both parents are sharing financial responsibility.

In this arrangement, it’s not uncommon for one parent to still spend more time with the child than the other. However, instead of one parent being “part-time,” the parent that sees their child less frequently is still expected to be highly involved.

Sole Custody

Despite the interest of the court to encourage shared custody, there are still circumstances when the court calls for sole custody. Both the past and current behavior of both parents is evaluated to determine if sole custody is necessary because one parent is unfit.

A court might determine a parent unfit for a history of substance or domestic abuse as well as child neglect. The court also evaluates each parent’s conduct during the marriage and determines if and how it affected the child. One of the basic principles the courts consider is whether each parent has a pattern of putting the child’s needs above his or her own.

Putting the Best Interests of the Child First

In Colorado, the law stipulates that the best interest of the child is a top priority, and as such, all relevant factors are considered when decided how custody is rewarded.

These relevant factors include the following:

  • The relationship between the child and each parent
  • Each parent’s past involvement with the child
  • The willingness of each parent to share custody and visitation
  • How close the parents live to each other
  • Any sibling relationships
  • Adjustments at home, school, and in the community
  • The mental and physical health of the people in the child’s life

To ensure that both parents understand the best way to conduct themselves around their children during this difficult time, the courts may require a parenting class. In some cases, the court may grant a waiver, or especially busy parents can elect to take the course online.

Further, the courts in Denver, CO, are “gender blind.” This means that mothers cannot expect to get preferential treatment, and fathers shouldn’t automatically resign themselves to visits that exclusively happen every other weekend.