At what age do kids get to decide what parent they want to live with?
In Colorado there is no age in which a child is able to choose whom they live with, that is until they are 18 or older when they are a legal adult. If a child is mature enough to express his/her own wishes, then a Motion for the Appointment of a CFI, CLR, or PRE should be filed. Consult a legal professional about the costs associated with the appointment of a neutral professional.
What if one of the parents hasn’t been involved in the child’s life for a period of time?
This factor will be considered as one of the factors in the Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-124 Best Interests of the Child Statute, particularly sections III and VII. However, the court may order reintegration therapy in some circumstances to give the parent a chance to reconnect with their child.
What if one parent wants to move out of the state with the child(ren)?
If they do not have the written permission of the other parent they must seek permission through the court, this is called relocation. Colorado appellate Court cases Spahmer (pre-decree cases) and Ciesluk (post-decree cases) generally guide you in what is expected to prove to a court the need for relocating a child out of state.
What if the other parent isn’t paying child support? Do I still have to give them parenting time?
Yes you should, especially if there is a court order. Those issues are handled separately.
Is it different for men and women in terms of custody? (Can dads get as much parenting time as moms?)
Colorado believes children need both parents in their lives, assuming that the child is safe with both parents. So, either parent may have parenting time, with both parents sharing parenting time.
What are typical and acceptable types of parenting time?
If the parents agree and the time is divided in a reasonable way, a magistrate or judge will adopt a reasonable parenting plan. For 50/50 overnight type plans, the most frequently seen is the 5-2-2-5, 3-4-4-3 or week on, week off. 5-2-2-5 gives one parent Monday and Tuesday, the other parent gets Wednesday and Thursday and then weekends alternate. This is very popular especially if you want your child on a specific night. The family should decide based on what’s best for their children.
Does square footage of home, number of bedrooms, or amount of money factor into parenting time?
No, except that it is preferable that a child have their own bed/sleeping area or one shared with a sibling.
What is the difference between SOLE and JOINT Parental Responsibility?
The terms “Sole” and “Joint” generally refer to decision making for children as to their religious, medical and educational needs. Parents who believe they can agree shall share joint decision making responsibilities. If a parent can convince a court they should receive sole decision making for any or all of these three critical areas, that parent shall do so pursuant to §14-10-124(B).
How does a DHS case, automatic restraining orders, or a temporary/permanent protection order affect my case?
There are other legal issues surrounding your case which could affect the child-parent relationship. Automatic Restraining Orders, Temporary or Permanent Protection Orders, Criminal cases, Dependency and Neglect cases and others may have some bearing the best interests of your children:
- If you are here seeking a Dissolution of Marriage, Automatic Restraining Orders go into effect immediately for both parents. These are listed in the Petition and on the Summons. If either parent violates an Automatic Restraining Order, that parent can be held in contempt of court. Penalties to the parent may affect that parent’s privileges with the children.
- If a Dependency and Neglect Case is filed before or during any case involving children, orders regarding your children issued by the Dependency and Neglect Court will take precedence over this case.
- If your child was victimized by one or both parents, there may be automatic criminal restraining orders preventing a parent from going near the child. These must be honored as long as the criminal court orders the no contact order. A Dependency and Neglect case may also be filed if a child is victimized.
- If your child is accused of a crime, there may be periods of time that no one may see the child.
- If one parent has obtained a Temporary or Permanent Protection order against the other parents, orders may also be entered regarding the children.
- A Temporary or Permanent Protection Order Magistrate or Judge will not likely issue any orders regarding the children if other orders already exist, unless the child is in danger under the current orders from another Court.
- If orders regarding the children are entered in a protection orders case, it is important to remember that those orders will expire 120 days after the entry of a Permanent Protection Order.
- If an Order regarding the children is issued out of a Dissolution of Marriage, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities or Dependency and Neglect case, it has absolute priority over Temporary or Permanent Protection Order at any time.
- Please remember that any form of child abuse, domestic abuse or domestic violence may affect one or more parents’ right to make decisions for the children.
Where can I obtain free court forms?
Will the divorce be delayed if one parent does not attend this class?
This class is a prerequisite to receiving final orders, however; it is up to a Magistrate or Judge’s discretion to enforce this.
What can I do when the other parent does not keep to the parenting time agreement (changes the times, doesn’t show up, cancels at the last minute, etc.)?
A party may file a Motion to Enforce or may file a Motion and Order for Contempt Citation seeking remedial or punitive punishments for the actions of another party.
If my children must live in another city/state, how can I maintain a good relationship with them?
Purchase of the Parenting Plan Possibilities book and other advice given in this video may assist you. Otherwise you might want to consult privately with a CFI or PRE.
How can I get a CFI, PRE, CLR or other professional appointed to my case?
You must file a Motion for the Appointment of a CFI, PRE or CLR and provide the Court a list of 2 or 3 possible candidates.
My child takes all his/her anger out at me. What should I do to deal with this?
Children express their anger where it is safe to do so. The fact they are directing it towards that parent simply means they feel safe with that parent, not that they are really mad at them. It means they trust that parent and know they have unconditional love with that parent. Acknowledging the child's feelings and letting him/her know that you understand they are upset about the changes in your family, while assuring the child that it is normal to have such feelings at this time. Be available to listen and help them deal with their strong emotions. At the same time, you must refrain from placing blame on or otherwise speaking negatively about the other parent. When appropriate, encourage the child to express their feelings to the other parent or let the child know that you will discuss their concerns with the other parent to try to find a resolution. If these measures fail, try to find an unbiased third party that your child may confide in such as a school counselor, a trusted clergy member or a child and family therapist.
How do I know when my child really needs professional help in dealing with the divorce?
The way you know when your child needs professional help is when their behavior is affecting their well-being. It is important to seek the help of a professional when your child exhibits any type of extreme, ongoing behavioral changes such as: having trouble eating or sleeping, having trouble getting along with others, uncharacteristically poor school performance, unusually aggressive or apathetic behavior, atypical intense anger or prolonged mood swings, intense grieving for the absent parent or the former family life or other radical changes such as cheating, stealing, lying, running away or alcohol or drug use.
How can I look up the Best Interest Statute myself?
Click on the following link then follow the directions below: www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/
- -hit agree
- -Upper left side of page click on Colorado Revised Statutes which opens up another page
- -Click on the + next to “Article 14”
- -Click on the + next to “Dissolution of Marriage – Parental responsibility”
- -Click on the + next to “Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act”
- -Click next to “14-10-124 Best Interest of the Child”, this is your destination
How can I get the judge to talk to my child?
You should consult an attorney for this. Generally it will involve filing a Motion for In Camera Testimony.
Where can I find help if I am in a domestic violence and/or sexual assault situation?
TESSA is the only provider of confidential services specifically for victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (DVSA) in El Paso and Teller Counties. Please follow the following link for more information: www.tessacs.org
What is overall process of divorce?
Cases involving dissolution of marriage with children, allocation of parental responsibilities, paternity or modifications involving children will generally require the following to occur:
- Filing all appropriate documents with the Court and giving appropriate notice to the other parent, unless the parties are co-petitioners
- Mandatory Initial Status Conference
- Some divisions require a good faith settlement conference prior to temporary orders
- Temporary Orders Hearing
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (Mediation, Arbitration, Settlement Conferences)
- Final or Permanent Orders Hearing
- Post-decree Hearings, if any; and
- Any other Status or Settlement Conferences ordered by the Court at any time
Unless the parties are co-petitioners, the party filing a case must make sure the other party(ies) is/are notified of the case. If the Petitioner knows where the other parent or parties are, the Petitioner must have someone else over the age of 18 hand copies of all the appropriate documents personally to the other parent or parties. That person must complete the appropriate Return of Service and have his/her signature notarized. Law enforcement officials or private process servers are generally the preferred persons to assist with this and there will likely be a fee involved.
However, if one party does not know where the other party(ies) is/are, that party must ask special permission of the Court to notify other parties by Publication or by some other means ordered by the Court.
Parties and attorneys, if any, will be expected to attend a mandatory Initial Status Conference.
*If no party is represented by a lawyer, and upon the filing of an appropriate Petition, the clerks in Room 101 will provide an order to the parties with a time and date to meet with Court Facilitators who are currently located in Room 116 of the courthouse. The Order will tell the parties what to bring to this conference. Please remember, the facilitators are not attorneys or judges. They assist you in explaining the next step in your case and cannot give you legal advice nor can they enter orders regarding your children, property, assets or debts.
*If any party is represented by an attorney, the attorney must take steps to set a mandatory Initial Status Conference with the District Court Magistrate assigned to the case.
*A mandatory Initial Status Conference is designed to check on the status of the case.
An order coming out of this conference shall guide the parents and attorneys by:
- Setting dates for disclosing personal and financial information;
- Setting time limits for completing this seminar;
- Determining if the parties are in agreement about temporary child support, parenting time, maintenance and/or division of debts;
- Determining whether or not the parents need mediation or some other form of settlement forum and setting time-limits to complete this;
- Determining if the parties need any experts, CFI’s, CLR’s or Parental Responsibility Evaluators appointed to the case;
- Setting Temporary Orders for issues that are in dispute; and
- Setting Final Orders if there are no issues in dispute.
*If a District Court Magistrate or Judge presides over the mandatory Initial Status Conference, all agreements can be ordered on a temporary basis. Any other deadlines set by the court must be followed completely.
Temporary Orders hearings and Permanent Orders hearings are generally held to resolve disputed issues between the parents. Courts reserve the right to ask parties to attend mediation or other forms of settlement and status conferences prior to any contested hearings heard by the Court.
Parties should understand that even if their case has gone to final orders, issues may arise after the final hearing. Some parents need to seek clarification of an order and some parents may seek to change or modify orders of the Court either by agreeing in writing to do so or by asking the Court’s permission to review and change previous orders. Again, the Courts may ask the parents to attend mediation to attempt to resolve any disputes that arise.
Each case is unique to the families involved. This general overview may not exactly describe the process in your case but it is fairly representative of what most parents go through in Court.