The Different Types of Child Custody

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.

Physical 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.

Legal Custody

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

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.

Joint Custody

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.

Grandparents and Child Custody

Certain circumstances may cause a parent to be unable or unwilling to take proper care of his or her children. When this happens, grandparents often step forward to provide the care and support their grandchildren need. However, grandparents that desire full or partial legal custody of their grandchildren may find themselves fighting an uphill battle.

Natural parents have fundamental rights to be with their children. In order to infringe on a parent’s rights to his or her children, a grandparent must present a compelling argument to support his or her request for custody. Grandparents must have “clear and convincing” evidence that parental custody is not in the best interest of the child.

Can Grandparents Get Child Custody in a Denver Divorce?

There are only a few circumstances in which a grandparent may be given physical and/or legal custody of his or her grandchildren. If a custody case for the child has been filed, grandparents and other third parties are allowed to throw their proverbial hats into the ring. Grandparents may be able to obtain temporary custody of their grandchildren if the parents’ divorce is particularly hostile or volatile. Other situations when a grandparent may request custody of a grandchild include:

  • If a child has been removed from his parents’ home and placed in foster care, grandparents are given priority preference to take physical care of the child, if they are able and willing to do so. (If parents are unmarried or divorced, the child’s other parent has preferential status.)
  • If the grandparent has provided primary care and physical residence for the grandchild for at least six months, the grandparent may request legal responsibility of the child.
  • If the child lived with the grandparent(s) for at least six months, and has been out of their care for no more than six months, the grandparents can ask the court for legal responsibility of the child.
  • If the child is currently in the physical care of someone that is not the child’s parent.

Unlike parents, grandparents have no automatic custody or visitation rights. They must demonstrate to the court that granting these rights would be in the best interest of the child. To determine what is in the child’s best interest, the judge will consider the physical and emotional health, environmental stability, and child’s relationship with each interested party, as well as any reports of child abuse or neglect.

Grandparent Visitation and Colorado Grandparent Custody Laws

If the court finds granting custody to the child’s grandparents is inappropriate, the judge may still decide to grant visitation rights. In Colorado, a grandparent may be allowed legal visitation rights if:

  • the child’s parents are granted a divorce, annulment, or legal separation;
  • legal custody of the child is granted to someone other than his or her parents; or
  • the child’s parent is deceased.

As always, visitation and custody rights are only granted if they are in the best interest of the child.

Call a Denver Grandparent Custody Lawyer

Divorce Matters is a full-service family law firm with locations in Greenwood Village and Lakewood. Contact us to request a consultation.