When parents divorce, a judge will need to decide who the children will spend time with and which parent will have the legal authority to make decisions for the child. Collectively, these are child custody decisions, though Colorado now prefers to use the term “parental rights and responsibilities” instead of “custody.” Child custody decisions are often very emotional ones, although they do not have to be. Read on for more information about the different types of child custody.
This is perhaps the easiest type of custody to understand. Physical custody means that the child is primarily living with you and is under your supervision. The other parent is given visitation, also called “parenting time.” Depending on the circumstances, parents might be given extensive visitation or limited visitation.
Even if a child is not living with you, you can have a say about important decisions regarding the child’s healthcare and education. This is legal custody. For example, you might need to decide whether your child can have surgery. If the judge has awarded you legal custody, then you get to make those decisions.
Sole custody means that only one parent has custody. For example, a parent might be given sole physical and legal custody of the children, thus cutting out the other parent completely. Colorado law does not favor sole custody. Instead, Colorado law advocates that both parents remain in contact with their children. Sole custody is rare and reserved mostly for those situations where one parent is completely unfit.
Today, joint custody has become the norm. Joint custody can be joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. Colorado law tries to keep both parents as involved in their children’s lives as possible. Unless one parent moves out of state, then both should spend extensive amounts of time with their children.
The precise amount will depend on how close the parents live to each other. For example, if they live in the same city or town, then a judge might divide physical custody 50/50. However, if one has moved a couple hours away, then one parent might be given regular weekend visitation as well as time in the summer.
Reaching an Agreement
You can lower the temperature of any divorce by coming up with an arrangement that works for everybody instead of fighting tooth and nail for sole custody. With respect to visitation, parents should create visitation schedules that they can stick to. If you have a busy job, you shouldn’t agree to weekly visitation if you are on the road constantly.
Of course, in some situation, you might not want joint custody with your ex. Common examples include a spouse who has been abusive to his or her children. Every situation is different, and you should discuss your concerns with your divorce lawyer.
Contact a Lakewood Child Custody Attorney for Help
Child custody decisions are probably the most important ones involved in any divorce. For help with your divorce, speak to a Lakewood divorce attorney at Divorce Matters. Our lawyers are happy to meet with you for a consultation, so call 720-580-6745 today.