When parents divorce, their time with the children becomes one of the biggest conflicts in the divorce. What many states call custody, Colorado law calls the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.
Either the couple going through the divorce or the judge overseeing their case will have to decide how much parenting time each adult should have and what other needs each parent must meet on behalf of the children.
In an uncontested or collaborative divorce, you and your ex get to set all of those terms yourselves. However, many couples required the assistance of the Colorado family courts to settle their disputes about parental responsibilities. What rules determine how the courts divide them?
The focus should be on what is best for the children
Colorado state law is quite clear about the top priority in any custody proceedings. Judges and parents always need to prioritize the best interests of the children. Children need stability, economic support and social relationships with their parents.
Most judges operate under the presumption that shared parental responsibilities, including parenting time, are important for the well-being of the children in the family. They may try to evenly divide parenting time or to at least give each parent liberal access to the children. However, these rules are in place for the protection of the children, not the benefit of the parents.
If your circumstances involve unsafe situations for your children, that can impact how the courts approach parental responsibilities. A parent who has not dealt with a severe addiction or who has a history of abusive behavior may receive less time with or access to the children. The courts will also take a dim view of a parent who tries to interfere with the relationships that their ex has with the children.
What are realistic expectations in a divorce with children?
Both parents can typically expect that the courts will support their relationships with the children unless there are complicating factors. No matter how angry you are at your ex, fighting for sole custody may do more harm than good unless you have a compelling reason to want to limit their access to the children.
Being realistic about your expectations in custody proceedings can help you keep the children as your focus and avoid wasting time and effort on unattainable outcomes.