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Child Custody – How Do Judges Decide on Parenting Time?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

blog-logoIf you are going through a divorce, one of the most contentious issues may involve deciding how your children will be raised.  Questions may include “Who will win primary physical custody?”; “How will holidays and vacation time be divided?” and “How will decisions be made with regard to the child’s religious upbringing and education?”  While all of these decisions fall into the category of “child custody,” it all comes down to one thing:  how will divorcing parents get their fair share of parenting time without endangering the best interests of the children?  As a Colorado family lawyer, I always recommend my clients work this out in mediation, but that isn’t always possible.  When parents don’t agree, it will ultimately become the court’s decision.

When a Colorado family court judge faces the question of parenting time in a child custody hearing, the decision will be based upon the child’s best interest.  This may sound a bit vague, but Colorado statutes address the meaning behind the “best interests of the children.”

Specifically, Colorado statutes make the assumption that the best interest of the children would include “frequent and continuing contact” between both parents and the children.  However, if one parent presents a psychological or physical danger to the children, the court may decide otherwise.

Some parents enter the courtroom with the intention of proving the other parent to be “unfit,” but they provide little or no evidence to support such a claim.  In order for the court to consider this, there must be evidence, such as a record of domestic violence, drunk driving, or another crime that specifically involves children.  If the evidence is deemed credible by the court, the other parent will be given considerably more power in determining parenting time and responsibility.

Shared decision-making authority will be granted when the court determines that both parties are able to make decisions on behalf of their children without physical confrontation.  In a child custody case, the judge will consider how well the parents cooperate with one another in making joint decisions about their children and whether the relationship between parent and child is “positive and nourishing.”  The court will also consider how the division of decision-making power will affect the continuation of frequent contact between parent and child.

If you are expecting child custody to be difficult or confrontational, or you are already headed to court for a hearing, it would be wise not to “go it alone.”  Consult with a Colorado Springs child custody lawyer today.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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