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Gebhardt Emerson Moddie Bonanno

Child Custody

CHILD CUSTODY (Parenting Time and Decision Making)

Your children are your highest priority, and legal issues that impact their life and future can feel overwhelming. 

In Colorado, child custody is called “the allocation of parental responsibilities” and includes two elements: decision-making for your child, and parenting time with each parent.  When deciding how decision-making should be allocated between parents, and a visitation schedule, the overarching standard is: what is in the best interests of the child?

The best interests of the child is defined by a number of different considerations, to include the history of care each parent has provided, the child’s relationship with each parent and other family members, the parents’ ability to encourage the love and sharing of affection between the child and the other parent, among other factors.  A list of factors may be found in Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-124.

The final decisions regarding visitation and decision-making will be included in a document called a “Parenting Plan.”  This Parenting Plan may be the result of an agreement that is filed with the court and then becomes an order of the court, or, if you and your co-parent cannot agree, a judge can issue orders regarding parenting time and decision making.  

Where there is disagreement, the court may appoint either a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or a Parental Responsibilities Evaluator (PRE) to help the parents, their attorneys, and the court gather more information and objective recommendations about parenting time and decision making.  Our child custody attorneys will also assist you in presenting evidence to the court to demonstrate the arrangement you believe is in the best interests of your child.

When a parent believes that a very limited visitation schedule is required, such as supervised visitation only, or limited hours with no overnights, the standard changes from a showing of the child’s best interests, to a showing that the child would be endangered in the other parent’s care without the proposed limitations.  Child custody attorneys are especially important in these scenarios if you believe your child is endangered or if allegations of endangerment have been lodged against you.

The process of establishing a parenting plan can feel arduous.  At GEM Family Law, our team is comprised of attorneys who are trained Child and Family Investigators, attorneys who have litigated numerous parental responsibilities cases, and attorneys who have helped parents resolve parenting time matters outside of court, either through negotiation, family law mediation, or through collaborative law.  Whether your case involves complex parenting dynamics and family needs, or whether your family simply needs expert advice as to the logistics of a parenting plan, our attorneys are prepared to guide you through the process, from beginning to end.