Custody is a term that we use to explain the relationship parents that are no longer together have with their kids. Custody has two parts: physical and legal. Physical is the amount of time the child spends with each parent and legal is the ability to make decisions for the child.
In Fort Collins Colorado, the Legislature determined that it did not like the idea that custody conveyed – that children were property of one parent of the other. So now Colorado courts refer to the relationship between parents and their children as parenting time and decision making authority.
Ideally the parents will work together to decide on a parenting plan.
The Parenting Plan outlines the day-to-day schedule for the child(ren), what special schedule the parents will follow for holidays, how decision making is allocated, and what child support is. CLICK HERE to access the Colorado form parenting plan.
If the parents are unable to decide on an appropriate schedule for their kids, then the judges have to decide.
Judges will rely on the parents to provide them with enough information about the family to help the judge decide what schedule will work best for the child. Judges will need to know what is going on in the child’s life – what activities is the child involved in, what type of relationship does the child have with each parent, how are the parents at communicating with each other, how old is the child, what school does the child attend, where do the parents live, and so on. Judges will need to know what is going on with each parent, and what each parent wants.
Sometimes the parents have such strong disagreements that the court may appoint a custody evaluator – either a CFI or a PRE.
Custody changes as your child grows and matures.
Imagine separating when your child is an infant. It would be impossible to predict what an appropriate parenting time schedule would be for your child at age 5, 10, 15, 17, or anywhere in between. It is also impossible to predict what will happen in the parents lives through the years. Custody can be modified by the parties agreement at any time. It must be in writing and filed with the court in order to be enforceable.
The parties can file motions to modify custody.
The parties can file motions to modify custody with the courts in the event that a change needs to happen and the parties cannot agree. CLICK HERE to access the Colorado Court form Motion to Modify.
Determining custody and modifying custody are not always straightforward. There are often many factors that will impact a determination of parenting time and decision making authority.
It is essential to make sure that you speak with a knowledgeable custody attorney that will advise you of your rights and responsibilities.