Child Custody Lawyers in Denver
When parents are going through a divorce or legal separation, the process of making child custody decisions can become heated and contentious. At Shapiro Family Law, we understand the complex issues involved in child custody matters and the hard choices parents have to make about their children. We can help you get through this tough time.
If you have concerns about your child custody case and want legal representation, contact Shapiro Family Law today at 303-695-0200 for a consultation with a child custody lawyer in Denver. We can help you with issues like:
- Establishing parenting time;
- Parenting time modifications;
- Decision-making responsibilities;
- Child support;
- Contempt of court; and
- Relocating with your child.
We can help you create a workable parenting plan for you and your spouse that keeps the best interests of your children a priority.
Allocation of Parental Responsibility
Colorado courts urge couples to work together to make mutual decisions about their children. The old term is child custody, and the current term is “allocation of parental responsibilities.” Parental responsibilities include decision-making abilities and parenting time.
Not all cases are suited for shared decision making. We can help you find solutions to your problems that keep the focus on your children and their best interests.
The courts will also allocate decision-making responsibility. Parents either make decisions together regarding major decisions, children’s medical care, education, religion, and general welfare, or decision making can be divided up. Parents can also share decision making. If you decide that your child should attend another school, for instance, your former spouse also has a say in the matter – unless you are the sole decision-maker for your child.
You will also have to decide the schedule you and your spouse or ex-spouse will share with your children. This used to be known as “visitation” and it is now called “parenting time”.
How the Court Allocates Parenting Time
Parenting time means how you share time with your children. In determining the best interests of children in parenting time, the court considers specific factors, including:
- The parents’ wishes about parenting time;
- The wishes of the child if they are mature enough to give a reason for their preference;
- The relationship of the child with their parents, siblings, and any other person who may impact the situation; and
- The health, both mental and physical, of everyone involved;
- The history of caretaking.
While some individuals assume that courts favor mothers over fathers, Colorado law states that the court will not “presume that any person is better able to serve the best interests of the child because of the person’s sex.”
How the Court Allocates Decision-Making Abilities
Colorado courts also allocate decision-making responsibilities in the best interests of the child (unless this is a modification of a prior order). The court considers the following factors:
- The parents’ ability to cooperate and make joint decisions;
- Whether the parents’ past behavior, personal values, time commitments, and level of mutual support show the ability to create a positive and healthy relationship with the child; and
- The impact allocation of mutual decision-making responsibilities would have on the amount of contact between each parent and the child.
Working With Neutral Third Parties to Help You Resolve Conflicts
If you and your spouse cannot agree on parental responsibility issues, Shapiro Family Law can connect you with neutral third parties that can help you resolve disputes. Either you or your spouse can request these parties to work on your case.
We can guide you in selecting a quality parental responsibilities evaluator, a Child and Family Investigator, or a parenting coordinator/decision-maker (PC/DM) and we will take you step-by-step in explaining the processes.
The court handling your case also has the authority to appoint neutral parties to help resolve your disputes. Prior to the appointment, state law requires the court to consider three factors:
- You and the other parent failed to adequately implement the parenting plan;
- You and the other parent attempted mediation unsuccessfully, or the court determined that mediation was inappropriate; and
- Appointing a parenting coordinator is in the best interests of your child.
Parental Responsibilities Evaluator
The court can order a mental health professional to perform an evaluation. This expert will meet with you and the other parent, the children, perform psychological testing, and prepare a report for the court which assesses the situation.
The court can appoint a parenting coordinator at any time after the entry of an order regarding parental responsibilities. The parenting coordinator will help you and the other parent implement your parenting time schedule.
The PC/DM has authority to issue orders as does a judge. Similar to the parenting coordinator, the PC/DM is only appointed after the entry of an order concerning parental responsibilities. Unlike the parenting coordinator, the PC/DM has binding authority to resolve disputes between parents in implementing or clarifying existing orders. A PC/DM serves for no longer than two years and this must be agreed to by both persons or the court cannot order this.
We Can Guide You Through the Child Custody Process
Shapiro Family Law can help you navigate the parental responsibility process by answering your questions and discussing options available to you. Call us now at 303-695-0200 to schedule an appointment with a child custody lawyer in Denver.
We know how hard it is to make decisions for yourself and your children while maintaining contact with the other parent. You can depend on Shapiro Family Law to help you along the way.