Dealing with a soon-to-be ex-spouse can be hard. When children are involved, matters can get even more complicated and emotional as you are asked to legally build up your case. If you are going to file for child custody, you need to understand how to prepare for such a case in your state. This post offers some essential guidance.
Step 1: Sole Custody Or Shared Parental Responsibilities?
Colorado custody laws, known as “parental responsibilities," relate to the duties and responsibilities that each parent owes his or her children, and this includes decision-making and parenting time.
Sole custody in Colorado can be given to one parent. When this happens, only one parent has time and decision-making authority, regarding education, health, and basic welfare.
If you are seeking sole custody, it must be for valid reasons, and you must seek the advice and services of an attorney, if you plan to move forward with such a request of the court. An attorney with Denver Family Law is a good step to take.
If your ex has sole custody and you are seeking shared parental responsibilities, you will still need the advice of an attorney. You have to carefully prepare your case, and you can’t do it alone.
Step 2: File for Custody
Depending on your circumstances, you can file for custody along with a petition for divorce. If you haven’t been married and/or have not begun the divorce process yet, you can file a complaint for “allocation of parental responsibility” with the Colorado court.
Step 3: Gather Evidence
You have to have compelling reasons for seeking sole custody. And your attorney will outline these for you. If you are seeking modification of a previous court order, the same applies. Evidence in child custody cases may include any or all of the following:
- Past history of parental responsibility activities.
- Evidence to support irresponsibility, abuse, substance abuse, etc., including police reports, affidavits, depositions, and such.
The evidence must be credible and supported. If you are seeking modification of custody rather than sole custody, again you must have compelling reasons, and your attorney will outline these for you.
Remember that the judge has one overriding concern – what is in the best interests of the child(ren). Your credibility matters. Never stretch the truth in order to gain an advantage. It will work against you.
Step 4: Prepare a Parenting Plan
If you are in the midst of a divorce, then Colorado custody laws will be a factor in the final disposition of the case. A parenting plan will be developed and approved by the court. If the divorce is already final, and you are not filing for sole custody or a modification of child custody, a new filing will have to be made.
Often in cases of modification requests, your attorney may advise that you first meet with your ex and determine if an agreement can be reached with the help of mediation. If so, then the modification can be filed with the court and approved.
If your ex objects to your modification, then you will have to present your evidence in your filing with the court, and your ex will have the opportunity to respond. Your attorney will draft your petition and handle the hearing.
Seeking child custody is both an emotionally draining and legally complicated procedure. Having legal support can be critical. Our Denver Family Law firm stands ready to help you build up your case.