Whether you are going through a divorce or you were never married to your child’s other parent, it is important to understand the steps you must take to establish child custody, also known as allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado. Attorneys at Perusse Nixon PLLC have more than 30 years of combined experience helping clients with child custody and other family law matters.
If you and your child’s other parent were married at the time your child was born, you are both presumed to be parents under Colorado law and have equal parenting rights with your children. If you are not married, but the father is named on the birth certificate, or both parents signed a Recognition of Parentage at the time of the birth, you will not need to establish paternity. There are other “presumptions of paternity” that create a parent-child relationship as well, so you should discuss all the legal possibilities with an experienced family law attorney.
If you or the suspected father have not acknowledged paternity and have no presumption of paternity, then a genetic test will be required. But, determining paternity is not the same as having parenting rights. If you were not married at the time of the child’s birth, you, as the father, must petition the court and ask for parenting time.
Filing Paperwork When Custody Terms Are Agreed Upon
If you and your child’s other parent have worked out custody terms, you may file a parenting plan, which includes how decision-making will be shared as well as physical time spent with each parent. Courts will generally approve agreed-upon terms unless the judge has a reason to believe that your custody arrangement is not in the best interest of your child.
Preparing Your Case
The legal standard for Colorado child custody cases is based exclusively on what is in your child’s best interests. In general, courts find that it is in a child’s best interest to spend the maximum time with both parents. Only in cases involving serious misconduct, such as abuse or neglect, will a court grant only one parent decision-making authority or restrict parenting time with a parent.
Whether you are seeking to establish paternity, child support, or parenting time, you will need to prepare your case for court. A judge will examine your claims and the evidence you have gathered for your case, as well as the other party’s claims and evidence. You will want to hire a family law attorney to prepare your case and advocate for your rights at trial.
Modification Of Custody
When child custody and child support orders are already in place, parents will sometimes seek to modify custody and support due to a change in circumstances. For example, if your child is spending more time with you than contemplated under the original child custody order, you may seek to modify that order based on your changed circumstances. In this situation, you will need to file a request for modification of child custody and child support with the court.
Colorado Child Custody Attorney
We know that the stakes are high in child custody cases, and our family law attorneys at Perusse Nixon PLLC handle all types of family law matters, including child custody cases. If you have questions about the allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado, or if you are facing a custody dispute, contact our office at 303-228-2285 or submit an online form to schedule a low-cost consultation.