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Be careful of what you ask for in child custody proceedings

Like most Colorado parents can attest, being a parent is probably one of the most rewarding yet simultaneously challenging experiences of your life. You love your kids and want what is best for them. The problem is that you and their other parent do not always agree on how to interpret that.

In fact, you might relate to those who say that disagreements about parenting are part of what led you to file for divorce. When spouses are not like-minded regarding parenting issues, it can cause a lot of stress in a marriage. If there are other problems as well, the marriage might simply be unable to withstand the strain. Divorce includes child custody negotiations. If you're preparing for such, you'll want to keep several things in mind.

Your children's well-being is the central focus 

It is the responsibility of the judge overseeing your case to determine what is or isn't in the best interests of your children when you and your ex propose a co-parenting plan. While it is definitely possible for you to negotiate your own agreement, you still need the court's approval before you actualize your plan.  

If you and your spouse have differences of opinion about where your children should live or other custody-related issues, the court will consider all factors, including guidelines the state has in place, to make a final decision and issue a child custody plan.  

Your personal feelings regarding your spouse will not influence the court

It's one thing if you believe there is a serious issue that the court should be aware of when ruling on your children's custody plan and quite another if you are trying to gain the court's favor by painting your spouse in a poor light.

In other words, if your spouse has a drug or alcohol addiction or is abusive, it is definitely something the court needs to know and will want to investigate. However, the fact that your spouse never listened to you or refused to share in your interests in marriage is not something that is likely to influence the court's decisions regarding custody.  

Both parents must adhere to a court order

If you are determined to insist on certain rules in a child custody plan, remember that you will also have to follow those rules. For instance, if you want the judge to officially rule that you can email, call or text your kids at any time, be prepared that such a ruling will be two-sided, meaning the other parent will be able to do the same.  

Parents sometimes try to use custody issues to get back at each other for hurt feelings caused during marriage. This almost always backfires and winds up causing further discord between former spouses; it can also cause problems for your kids, who would likely fare much better if they witness their parents' willingness to cooperate and compromise for their sake.  

Support is always available 

Divorce is never easy, and it can be particularly difficult when children are involved. You might sign a child custody agreement and then have cause to seek a modification of your court order down the line when life changes prompt a need to do so. Having a strong support system in place from the start is the best way to ensure that you and your children will be able to successfully adapt to your new lifestyle and will also be able to rectify any legal issues that arise along the way.

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