When you first got married, there was probably nothing more important to you than your life with your new spouse. As time passed, children came and your new family became the focus of all your thoughts and efforts. Few things matter as much to a good parent as the health and well-being of his or her kids.
Now that your marriage seems to be ending, the welfare of the children is more important than ever. While you intend to make every effort to come away from a divorce in good shape personally, the best interests of the kids should always come first. Taking the time to prepare for making custody arrangements helps to ensure you meet those interests.
Types of custody in Colorado
If you know people who divorced in Colorado in the past, you may be familiar with the concepts of "legal custody" and "residential custody." Those terms have fallen out of favor, and legal professionals now talk about "parental responsibilities."
Parental responsibilities include any and all duties parents have to their kids, including spending time with them, and making important life-choices. Parents can share the responsibility for making decisions for children or one parent can make these decisions alone. Types of decisions that fall into this category include:
- Religious upbringing
- Medical care
Parenting time refers to the time a parent spends in the physical presence of his or her child. In some cases, parents divide this time equally, though many find this type of arrangement difficult. More often, the child spends the majority of his or her time with one parent. The other parent has scheduled time with the child, sometimes known as "visitation."
How will the judge decide who gets custody?
If you and the other parent are unable to decide for yourselves how to arrange custody, a judge will make the decision for you. He or she will look at numerous factors before making a ruling, such as:
- Each parent's wishes, and those of the child, if the child is old enough
- Child's adjustment to his or her current environment such as school, friends and community
- Mental and physical health of all parties
- Past involvement with children of each parent
- Each parent's willingness to communicate with the other
- Any history of neglect or violence
Understanding the variables a judge will look at can help you prepare for your day in court, and improve the chances of reaching the outcome you want.
Your marriage is ending, but you're not alone
Going through a divorce is emotional, and sometimes confusing. It's not always easy to tell what the right thing to do is, as you try to make the best decisions you can for yourself and your child. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the process without help.
A caring and experienced lawyer who has helped many men and women from the community through their most difficult times can be there for you. Knowing you have the support and knowledge of a skilled professional on your side may make your child custody case easier to get through.