Child Custody

Is a Nesting Agreement Right for You?

Posted in Child Custody on June 7, 2022

Child custody is often the largest point of contention in a Colorado divorce case. What most parents can agree on, however, is that they want what’s best for their children. To some families, this means keeping the children in the family home 100 percent of the time rather than making them alternate residences when the parents share custody. This custody arrangement is known as bird nesting, bird-nest parenting or simply nesting.

What Is a Nesting Agreement in Divorce?

A nesting agreement in a divorce or legal separation case is a type of shared custody plan where the focus is on keeping the children in the home they are used to living in full-time. Rather than a traditional joint custody plan, where the children split their time between the two separate residences of each parent, a nesting agreement rotates the parents out of the family home according to an agreed-upon schedule and lets the children stay there full time.

Bird-nest parenting typically looks like this: Parent A lives in the family home with the children while Parent B lives in a rented space. When it’s time to switch custody – when it’s Parent B’s parenting time with the kids – Parent A and Parent B switch places. Parent A will stay in their rented space while Parent B stays in the marital home with the children until it’s Parent A’s parenting time. This pattern will continue for the duration of the parenting plan, with the parents rotating in and out of the home for their parenting time and the children never leaving.

Does Nesting Work Long Term?

A nesting agreement can work long term if both parents are on the same page and willing to work together. Like more traditional child custody arrangements, bird-nest parenting still requires an established parenting plan. Nesting is not a substitute for a time-sharing arrangement in a divorce case.

You and your spouse will need to sit down together and work out exactly what your schedule will look like – including who will be in the marital home with the children for weekends, weekdays, holidays, birthdays, school vacations, special occasions, etc. Nesting has a better chance of working long term if a couple is amicable and able to communicate and work together for the sake of their children.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Nesting Agreement?

If you and your spouse are curious whether a nesting agreement is right for your family, consider the various pros and cons that can come with this arrangement:

Pros:

  • The changes that children have to adapt to during a divorce are kept to a minimum.
  • Children don’t have to spend any time away from their friends, community or nearby family members.
  • Children can continue attending the same daycare, school or church all week long.
  • Neither parent has to give up living in the marital home.
  • You can save money by renting a small studio for the nonmarital property.
  • You don’t have to decide right away whether you want to sell or keep the family home.

Cons:

  • You are unable to sell the marital home, which can prevent a clean break.
  • Not selling the marital home can also have negative financial consequences.
  • It can be difficult to work out matters such as who will pay for repairs to the marital home.
  • Organizing taxes, such as who gets to deduct the mortgage interest, can be difficult.
  • Calculating child support can be more difficult since both parents are still technically living together.
  • The couple must be able to communicate and work together to share a living space.
  • This arrangement can get tricky if one or both parents start to date other people.

You have a lot to think about as a parent considering a nesting agreement after divorce or legal separation. Talk this option over with a Fort Collins child custody lawyer for further information and personalized advice for your family’s unique situation.

Emancipation of Minors in Colorado: Does It Affect Child Support Obligations?

Posted in Child Custody on November 29, 2021

Fort Collins child custody lawyer

Child support is a major part of many divorce and legal separation cases in Colorado. For the most part, a child support order will last until a child turns 19 – the age of majority in Colorado. Certain circumstances may change the age at which a child support obligation ends, however, either by cutting it short early or extending it past the age of 19. Emancipation is something that could shorten the required payment, depending on the case.

What Is Emancipation?

Emancipation in Colorado means that the rights and responsibilities that exist between a parent and child are terminated. To become emancipated in Colorado, a minor must fulfill certain requirements. For child support purposes, according to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-115(13), emancipation automatically occurs without either party filing a motion when the last child of the marriage turns 19 years old. This means most child support obligations end at age 19.

However, a child could also become emancipated early, which could terminate the child support agreement before the child turns 19. For example, if a minor gets married or joins the armed forces, he or she is legally considered emancipated in Colorado. It may also be possible for the minor to emancipate himself or herself through a court procedure, if the minor can prove that he or she lives alone, can self-support financially, and manage his or her own affairs. Once a child becomes emancipated, the paying parent generally will no longer have to pay child support.

What Happens to Your Child Support Agreement if a Minor Emancipates Early?

If your child meets any of the conditions that make him or her legally considered emancipated before turning 19 in Colorado, this will end your child support obligation early. An emancipated minor is no longer considered dependent on the custodial parent, as he or she can support himself or herself financially. Therefore, the paying parent will no longer be responsible for paying child support for the emancipated child.

You do not need to take any legal steps to stop paying child support for an emancipated child in Colorado. After marriage, military enlistment or an emancipation procedure, your child will legally be considered emancipated. This will automatically relieve you of your support obligation for that child without you needing to file a motion to terminate the support with the courts. As the payer, however, you may still owe child support for other minors who are not emancipated that you share with your ex-spouse. Your order will only end after the last child becomes emancipated.

Can a Child Support Obligation Last Beyond Emancipation?

In some scenarios, a child support order can extend past the child turning 19. Even though the child will technically be considered emancipated at this age, a parent may still have to continue paying child support if there are extenuating circumstances that require the custodial parent to continue paying for child-related care, such as a disability, medical condition or a child who still goes to school. If any of the following are true, a child support obligation in Colorado may last beyond the age of 19:

  • Both parties agree to continue paying child support longer. 
  • The child is mentally or physically disabled.
  • The child is still in high school or an equivalent program.

If you are not sure how long your child support order will last based on a unique circumstance, such as early emancipation, you may need assistance from a child support lawyer in Fort Collins. The topic of emancipation can be complicated, especially if your child is attempting to become emancipated early with a court order. An attorney can help you understand your situation and how long your child support obligation will last. If you wish to modify a child support agreement based on a change in your circumstances, a lawyer can also help you with this legal matter.

How Mental Health Issues Can Affect Your Colorado Custody Case

Posted in Child Custody on October 29, 2021

fort collins child custody

Many people who get involved in divorce and child custody cases believe that if they can prove the other parent has a mental health issue, the courts will automatically rule in their favor. However, this is not the case. The mental health and stability of all individuals involved is only one factor used to determine parental responsibility in Colorado. Working with a custody attorney can help you protect your rights, your child and your family in this situation.

How the Family Courts Determine Mental Fitness

The mental health of both parents is something that will be carefully taken into consideration during a custody case in Colorado. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD and substance abuse may affect an individual’s parenting ability. This is what the courts set out to determine when a custody case involves a parent with a history of mental illness. The courts may use many tools to determine a parent’s mental and psychological fitness to care for a child, including:

  • Any patterns of domestic violence, child neglect or abuse. If a parent’s mental health issue has a history of interfering with his or her ability to parent a child, any past incidents will be carefully analyzed and factored into the custody decision.
  • Psychiatric examination. A judge will order a psychiatric examination of one or both parents if this is requested by either party. Psychological testing can help a judge understand the parent’s mental state or a diagnosed disorder, as well as how this issue may impact the parent’s ability to properly care for a child.
  • Medical information. According to HIPAA laws, many medical documents and records are protected information and cannot be used in court. However, testimony from relevant medical experts could be used to prove that a parent presents a danger to him or herself or others.
  • Substance abuse allegations. If a judge becomes aware of a substance abuse problem by either parent, this can negatively impact that parent’s chances of obtaining child custody. In this case, a judge may order a drug or alcohol screening test or require the parent to submit to testing before visitation with the child.

There are many different custody arrangements that a judge can assign in Colorado. If a judge determines that a mental health issue precludes a parent from primary custody, that parent could still obtain shared or joint custody or visitation rights. It is also possible to request a modification of a child custody agreement in the future if anything changes, such as a change in either parent’s mental state.

Other Elements of a Child Custody Case

The allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado involves more than just one parent’s mental health issues. According to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-124, the main factor that a judge will look at when determining custody is the child’s best interests. This standard has a broad scope, meaning that a judge can analyze many different parts of a child’s life to determine the arrangement that will best protect his or her well-being. These factors include:

  • How emotionally connected the child is to either parent
  • The child’s ties to his or her home, community and nearby relatives
  • The physical and mental fitness of all individuals involved
  • Each parent’s history of allowing the child to have continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent
  • The ability of a parent to place the child’s needs over his or her own
  • The distance between the two households
  • What the child wants, in some cases

Colorado law specifically states that a disability alone is not a basis to deny or restrict parental responsibilities. This includes a mental disability or diagnosed mental health issue. Instead, the courts are required to analyze all factors that could play a role in a child’s physical health and safety, emotional development, and overall happiness. If you or your spouse has a mental health issue, contact an attorney for assistance with this delicate situation. With representation from an attorney, you can make the strongest case possible for your desired custody arrangement to protect your child.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody Cases in Colorado

Posted in Child Custody on October 29, 2021

Fort Collins domestic violence and child custody lawyer

Unfortunately, domestic violence is an issue that is involved in many divorce, legal separation and child custody cases throughout Colorado. Reports of domestic violence have increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are facing a child custody battle that involves violence, abuse or assault by your spouse, there are steps that you can take to secure your safety and legal rights. Contact a child custody attorney in Fort Collins right away for more information.

Does Domestic Violence Automatically Exclude a Parent From Child Custody?

No. The courts will analyze many different factors when making a child custody decision (known as parental responsibility in Colorado). According to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-124, however, domestic violence is a specific factor that is assessed in a custody case. Part (1.5)(b)(V) states that if one party has been a perpetrator of domestic violence, it will not be in the best interests of the child to allocate joint decision-making responsibility if the other parent objects to this arrangement.

There is an exception noted, however, if the courts find that both parents can make shared legal decisions without physical confrontation and in a manner that does not endanger the victim or child. In other words, domestic violence will not automatically take physical or legal custody rights away from a parent in Colorado. However, it can increase the odds of a judge assigning custody to the other parent.

Proving Domestic Violence in a Custody Case

Importantly, the law also states that a domestic violence allegation will be factored into a child custody decision only if it is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. This does not necessarily mean that the alleged abuser must be convicted of domestic violence by the criminal courts. Instead, there must be enough proof to establish that the parent more likely than not committed an act that qualifies as domestic violence.

Proving domestic violence in your divorce or custody case requires clear and convincing evidence. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, a police report, testimony from a police officer, eyewitness statements, text messages or emails, photographs of physical injuries from domestic abuse, statements from the alleged victim, a psychological evaluation of the alleged abuser, and statements from the child. If there is enough proof to support a domestic violence allegation, this will play a role in a custody determination.

How to Protect Yourself in a Domestic Violence Custody Case

If you are involved in a divorce or legal separation case where your spouse has committed domestic violence or abuse, it is critical to protect yourself and your child. This includes protecting yourself physically as well as legally in a custody case. Take the following steps if you are in this situation:

  1. Call 911 in an emergency. If you or your child are in fear of imminent bodily harm due to domestic violence, call 911 for immediate assistance. Reporting domestic violence can help you create a record of this crime for your custody case later.
  2. Confide in a trusted friend or family member. If you are trapped in an abusive relationship, make a plan to keep yourself and your child safe with assistance from someone that you can trust. If you don’t have anyone in your life to fill this role, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for support.
  3. Contact a divorce attorney. Once you have ensured your safety, contact a divorce attorney for legal assistance. An attorney can help you file for an emergency protective order (restraining order) as well as for divorce and child custody.

Sadly, domestic violence is not uncommon in family law cases. If your child custody battle involves allegations of domestic violence, it is critical to hire an attorney to represent you. This is true if you are a victim as well as if you are the parent being accused of domestic violence. With so much at stake, hiring an attorney is critical for the protection of your legal rights. For more information about your case, contact The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Colorado Child Custody Rights for Non-Biological Parents

Posted in Child Custody on October 29, 2021

Fort Collins child custody attorney

If your family is going through a divorce or legal separation, child custody is most likely one of the most contested factors in your case. If you are a non-biological parent, such as a stepparent, caregiver or legal guardian, you have child custody rights in Colorado. Under state law, there are many circumstances where non-biological parents can be awarded custody and visitation rights. Protecting your legal rights in this situation may require assistance from a child custody attorney.

How is Custody Determined in Colorado?

There is no hard and fast rule for who gets child custody in a family law case. Instead, the courts determine custody on a case-by-case basis according to the best interests of the child (Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-124). This means a judge will choose the arrangement that best protects the child’s physical, emotional and developmental well-being. In making this decision, a judge may look at many factors unique to the case, including:

  • The fitness of the child’s biological parents
  • The child’s emotional ties to both parents and other family members
  • The parents’ wishes
  • The child’s wishes, if old and mature enough
  • Which parent is most likely to allow the other to remain in contact with the child
  • Whether either parent has a history of substance abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, etc.

Overall, a court will rule on a child custody case based on what arrangement will be in a child’s best interests. If this is for a non-biological parent to obtain custody of a child, this is what the courts will decide. As there is a strong underlying notion that a child does best in the custody of his or her natural parents, however, fighting for custody as a non-biological parent or another family member can be difficult.

How to Protect Your Custody Rights as a Non-Biological Parent

You may have child custody rights as a non-biological parent in certain circumstances in Colorado. You or your attorney must prove, however, that you have either become a psychological parent to the child or that allocation of custody with you is what’s best for the child. There are two main scenarios where a non-biological parent has a standing right to file for custody under state law. In these situations, you can submit a request for both physical and legal child custody:

  1. If you are legally the child’s guardian, such as a stepparent, adoptive parent or someone who has had physical custody of the child for at least six months.
  2. If the child is currently not under the care of either biological parent, you can file for custody as any third party – even if you currently don’t have the child in your care.

Protect your rights to custody as a non-biological parent by hiring an attorney to represent you during this complicated type of case. An attorney can help you state your case before a judge, such as demonstrating that the child would be better off in your care. Your attorney can also help you refute allegations or evidence presented by a biological parent, if applicable. An attorney can guide you with trustworthy legal advice as to if and when you are eligible to request custody of a child.

Third-Party Custody Rights

If you are a relative other than a parent, you can also fight for custody. Certain third parties that have a relationship with the child have custody rights, in some situations. In Colorado, a relative such as a grandparent can initiate an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR) case to request custody at any time, even outside of a divorce or legal separation. 

An APR has the power to award parenting time (physical custody), decision-making (legal custody), visitation and child support for minor children. This type of case can be critical for someone who is caring for a minor child but is not the child’s parent, as it can allow the individual the right to see and make important decisions for the child. For more information about how to handle a child custody case as a non-biological parent, contact an attorney in Fort Collins today.

Options for Enforcing a Custody Order in Colorado

Posted in Child Custody on July 29, 2021

A custody order is a legal obligation that must be obeyed. While most people comply with court orders without issue, some decide to go against the law and make decisions that violate legal requirements. If your ex-spouse substantially breaches a custody order or repeatedly makes minor infractions, you have legal rights. Discuss your options for enforcing a custody order with an attorney in Colorado for assistance.

Police Intervention

First, consider whether or not you should involve the police. If you do not know where your child is, cannot get in touch with your ex-spouse, suspect parental kidnapping or believe that your child is in imminent danger of bodily harm, call 911 immediately. The police can take down a report, help you locate your child and file criminal charges against your ex. If your ex is convicted of a crime such as child endangerment or parental abduction, this can lead to a change in your custody order, as well – allowing you to better protect your child and your rights.

File a Motion With the Courts

Whether or not you need to involve the police, most attorneys recommend filing a motion with the courts for a violation of a custody agreement. Tell the courts that your ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of a court order by filing a Motion to Enforce. Issues with custody agreements are typically expedited, meaning that the courts will hear your case sooner rather than later.

With a Motion to Enforce, the courts can hold your coparent accountable for breaching the terms of a custody order or denying visitation. A judge may be able to help you by reaffirming your parental responsibilities, giving you extra time with your child for missed visitation or days of custody, fining your ex-spouse for the violation, and/or requiring your ex to give you financial compensation for your related legal fees. A Motion to Enforce is the most common legal remedy for a violated custody order.

Modify the Custody Agreement

If the violation was an isolated incident, it is not likely that the courts will get involved. However, if the incident was severe – such as taking the child out of state without permission – or a parent is guilty of repeat violations, then the courts may grant a request to modify the custody agreement. You or your attorney can file a request to amend your child custody agreement, such as decreasing the violating party’s parenting time. The courts may accept your request if they believe it is in the best interests of your child.

File a Motion for Contempt

You may also have grounds to file a Motion for Contempt. This is a motion requesting that the courts penalize your ex-spouse for failing to fulfill a custody order. If the courts find the violating party in contempt of court, he or she may face repercussions such as a fine or even jail time. However, filing a Motion to Enforce or modifying the custody agreement are generally preferred remedies over a Motion for Contempt.

What Not to Do

Just as it is important to know what to do if your ex is violating a custody order, it is also important to know what not to do. For example, do not retaliate against your ex-spouse by withholding child support. Child support and child custody are two separate orders. If you stop paying child support, you will still be held responsible for the full amount of your obligation, including your missed payments.

It is also important not to take matters into your own hands. Having a civilized conversation with your ex-spouse about meeting the terms of your custody agreement can be a productive way to resolve the dispute. However, resorting to threats, violence or “stealing” your child back can do more harm than good – including causing your child emotional distress. Remain calm and remind yourself that there are effective legal outlets to help you successfully resolve the situation. Then, contact an attorney for professional assistance.

How Are Child Custody Decisions Made in Colorado?

Posted in Child Custody on July 27, 2021

If you and your ex-spouse share children from your marriage, you will need to determine child custody, visitation and support during your divorce case. Child custody – called parental responsibilities in Colorado – may be the most important aspect of your divorce. Many people hire child custody attorneys for assistance. Learn more about how child custody decisions are made in Colorado to better understand your rights and legal options as a parent.

Can I Make My Own Child Custody Plan?

Yes. You and your ex-spouse can work together to create your own custody arrangement, also known as a parenting plan. First, you will need to determine legal and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions for your child, such as what school or church your child attends. Physical custody is the physical care of the child. Both parents may share both types of custody (the most common scenario). However, it is also possible for one parent to have legal custody but not physical custody, and vice versa.

What Does “The Best Interests of the Child” Mean?

If you cannot compromise with your ex-spouse to create a child custody arrangement that is fair and reasonable, you will have to take the matter to a judge in Colorado. Despite the common misconception, a judge does not automatically grant custody to the mother. According to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-124(3), a judge must determine a custody arrangement based on the best interests of the child. This means what is best for the child’s physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing.

In general, the law holds that co-parenting, where the child stays in frequent and continuing contact with both parents, is in the best interests of a child. If this is not safe or plausible, however, a judge may allocate parental responsibilities solely to one parent. A judge may also order joint custody, where both parents share custody of a child. The arrangement will depend on many factors but will always work toward one main goal: to serve the child’s best interests.

What Factors Will a Judge Consider?

Child custody decisions during a divorce are extremely complicated. Your case may require an in-depth look at your family life, home, relationships, psychological state, background, job and many other factors to determine the best custody arrangement. Some of the factors that a judge in Colorado will consider when determining parental responsibilities include:

  • The emotional bond between the child and parent
  • How much the child is attached to his or her home, school and community
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • Social factors, such as a parent’s lifestyle
  • Each parent’s living situation
  • How far away the parents live from each other
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • Any history of criminal accusations or drug or alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence accusations or convictions
  • The age and needs of the child
  • The child’s preferences, if old enough and mature enough

A judge will often enlist the assistance of child health and wellness professionals, such as therapists, to determine the best interests of the child. The professional may interview you or your child. You may need to undergo a psychological evaluation, as well, if your spouse or a judge requests one. Overall, a judge will make a custody arrangement based on what is best for the child’s health, safety, development and emotional needs.

Can I Modify a Child Custody Agreement?

It is difficult, but not impossible, for a parent to modify a custody order in Colorado. However, the courts require a valid and compelling reason to make the change. For example, one parent’s situation must have substantially changed, such as the parent moving out of state or going to jail. Additionally, the parent must demonstrate that the existing custody order is no longer in a child’s best interests. For more information or assistance with a child custody matter in Fort Collins, contact an experienced attorney.

Child Custody and Relocation in Colorado

Posted in Child Custody,Child Relocation on July 23, 2021

A common issue involved with a child custody arrangement is one parent wishing to relocate. A spouse may wish to move farther away to have a fresh start after the breakup, or may get relocated for work long after the divorce. Whatever the reason, specific protocols must be met to legally relocate with a minor child in Colorado. If you are dealing with a child move-away or relocation matter, consult with a child relocation attorney right away for assistance.

Can a Parent Relocate With a Child During or After Divorce?

Yes, a parent can move away or relocate with a child during or after a divorce, but only if the parent meets certain requirements. There are legal obligations that must be met before the parent can move. If the divorce has not yet been finalized and the couple does not have a custody agreement, the moving parent will need permission from the other parent or the court to relocate a child (even temporarily). In general, it is difficult to get this permission from the courts during a pending divorce.

If the couple is divorced and a parent with primary or joint custody wishes to move someplace that will substantially change his or her geographic location, the parent must also obtain permission from the other parent or a judge. The proper steps for relocating are:

  1. The moving party must provide written notice of the intent to move as soon as practicable.
  2. The party must write down the location where he or she wishes to move and the reason for the relocation.
  3. The party must include a new proposed parenting that takes the new location into account.
  4. If the other parent does not permit the move, the moving party can file a Motion to Relocate.
  5. Both parents will then have to speak before a judge on the issue during a relocation trial.
  6. A judge will review the facts of the case and determine whether the relocation serves the child’s best interests.

If the case goes to court in Colorado, the courts will generally make it a priority. Under Colorado law, a court should schedule a relocation hearing within 35 days of an opposing parent filing an objection. When determining a relocation matter, a judge will look at factors such as the current custody arrangement and the needs and desires of the child. If a judge grants the relocation request, it may also give a new custody order.

What if Your Ex Relocated Without Your Permission?

Without permission from the other spouse or the courts, it is against the law for a parent to relocate with a child during or after a divorce. It does not matter if the moving parent has primary or sole custody; the parent must still go through the proper outlets to receive permission to move, especially if the proposed relocation is out of state.

If your ex-spouse moved away with your child without your permission or an order from the court, take action immediately. If you believe your child is in imminent danger, call the police. This is called parental kidnapping and it is a crime in all 50 states. Then, go to the family court that created your custody order and file for an emergency or expedited relocation hearing. The courts will have resources to help you hold your ex-spouse accountable. They may also alter a custody agreement if your ex is no longer serving the best interests of your child.

Can You Modify Custody Due to Relocation?

If your ex-spouse plans on moving to a different geographical area – someplace farther than just the next town over – you can request a custody order modification from a judge. A judge may modify your custody arrangement if your ex-spouse plans to place a significant amount of distance between your households. As is the case with all custody matters, a judge will rule according to the best interests of the child. For legal assistance relocating or stopping a child relocation in Colorado, contact a family law attorney today.

What Happens to an Adopted Child During a Divorce?

Posted in Child Custody,Child Relocation,Divorce on June 29, 2021

An adopted child is viewed in the same way as a biological child by the divorce courts in Colorado. This means if you and your spouse get divorced with an adopted child, matters such as child custody and child support will be determined in much the same way as if the child were biological and born of the marriage. There may be some special considerations, however, related to the adoption. For assistance with a complicated child custody matter, contact a Fort Collins divorce lawyer.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

You and your spouse will have the opportunity to reach a settlement agreement that determines issues such as child custody, visitation and child support on your own, without court intervention. This is what is known as an uncontested divorce case. It may be helpful to use a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse and avoid a trial. If you cannot reach a settlement regarding custody of an adopted child or another key issue, your divorce case will have to go to court. This means you would have a contested divorce.

Colorado Child Custody Laws

In Colorado, the family courts will look at many different things to determine child custody if your divorce case goes to trial. For the most part, the courts will want the adopted child to remain in contact with both parents. Adoptive parents have a duty to care for and provide for the child as they would with children born of the marriage. However, the main factor is the adopted child’s best interests.

Custody of an adopted child is based on factors such as:

  • The wishes of both parents and the child
  • The child’s relationship to either parent
  • The child’s connection to his or her community and surroundings
  • The child’s safety and wellbeing
  • Any special circumstances or special needs the child has
  • Each parent’s living situation
  • Family history

These are the same factors that are considered when determining custody of a biological child in a divorce case in Colorado. Adopted children also have the right to receive financial support from both parents, meaning the courts may require one spouse (typically the noncustodial parent) to pay the other child support.

Special Considerations for Adopted Children

If the child is one parent’s biological child and the other parent’s adopted child, the courts will value both parental relationships in the same way. The parent with the biological relationship to the child will not receive preference based on this. Each parent will be viewed as the child’s legal parent and treated the same way.

One special issue that may arise in a divorce case involving an adopted child is an adoption subsidy payment. Subsidy payments are given to the child in an amount that may be several hundred dollars each month. If the parents get divorced, the adopted child will continue to receive this subsidy payment until he or she reaches the age of majority.

In general, an adoption subsidy is viewed as the child’s property and does not change how much the noncustodial parent must pay in child support. A portion of the subsidy, however, may be given to the other parent based on his or her share of parenting time. Like child custody and other divorce matters, a couple always has the ability to determine child support on their own before the matter goes to a judge.

What If the Adoption Is Still Pending?

If you and your spouse split up while an adoption is still pending, your divorce may affect the adoption. If the adoptive mother is making the final decision, for instance, she may not give her consent to the adoption after learning of your divorce. In addition, the court in charge of the adoption will consider how the divorce might affect the child. If the birth mother still consents and one parent wishes to proceed with the adoption, there is a chance that it will still go through. These are complicated cases, however, that deserve legal attention. Contact a divorce attorney in Colorado today for more information.

Is it Possible to Refuse a Court-Ordered Visitation in Colorado?

Posted in Child Custody on March 22, 2021

Child custody is a complicated matter in a divorce case in Colorado. Physical custody refers to the physical control of a child, while legal custody is the right to make important decisions. Child visitation, also known as parenting time, refers to a parent’s legal right to visit with his or her child. If your ex tries to refuse a court-ordered visitation, you have legal rights.

Visitation Rights Explained

A child custody arrangement is a parenting time schedule you must comply with after a divorce. A judge’s goal for child custody and visitation is to protect the child’s best interests. The courts operate under the belief that a child does best when he or she remains in contact with both parents. Therefore, except with an issue such as domestic violence or child abuse, most child custody agreements have shared or joint custody.

If one parent has primary custody, the other parent may have visitation rights. This is the right to visit with a child for a specific period of time, either with or without supervision. Visitation uses scheduled meetings that generally last for a few hours. The meeting may be supervised if the case involves issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse.

In general, it is against the law to refuse a court-ordered visitation in Colorado. Any type of court order in a family law case must be obeyed. Failing to comply with an order from a judge can lead to significant penalties, including fines, being held in contempt of court, jail time and even criminal charges. The penalties will be especially severe if the parent’s actions harmed the wellbeing of the child, such as in a parental kidnapping case.

What to Do If Your Spouse Is Refusing Visitation

If your ex-spouse is refusing to allow your child to come to a court-ordered visitation, he or she may be in violation of the law. The best way to handle this is to go to the family court and file an official complaint against your ex-spouse. Get in touch with your divorce attorney for assistance. You may be eligible for additional visitations to make up for the ones you missed. The courts may also offer other remedies, such as giving you a break with child support. In extreme cases, your ex-spouse may even lose custody.

However, if your spouse returned to the courts, presented a case for your visitation to be withdrawn and was granted the right to deny visitation, you may have no legal options against the custodial parent. Instead, you will need to work to remedy the issue and return to the courts at a later time to argue for the reinstatement of your visitation rights. The same is true if your spouse cited an emergency situation as a reason to withhold visitation, such as becoming aware of drug abuse or someone new living in your residence.

COVID-19 and Child Visitation

The COVID-19 pandemic is not a valid reason to refuse a court-ordered visitation in Colorado. The state courts have made it clear that a custodial parent must go through the correct legal processes to alter a court-ordered custody or visitation agreement during the pandemic. If your ex-spouse withheld visitation and cited COVID-19 as a reason, this does not excuse his or her lack of compliance with a court order. You will have the right to take your ex-spouse to court for violating your parenting time agreement.

When Is a Child Old Enough to Refuse Parenting Time?

Colorado’s custody laws state that a child may be able to refuse parenting time or a court-ordered visitation if he or she is old enough and mature enough to make this decision. This may occur at many different ages but typically starts at the age of 14. Older children, such as 16 or 17 years old, will generally have more say in parental visitation.

For more information about child visitation in Colorado, or for help with your ex-spouse’s refusal to uphold a parenting plan, contact an attorney today.