Alter Family Law
Colorado Child Custody Lawyer
“More Than Just Representation”
» Parenting Time (Physical Custody)
» Decision Making (Legal Custody)
» Impact on Child Support
» Supervised Parenting Time
» Settlement Evaluation
» Best Interests Analysis
» Extra-Curricular Considerations
» Special Needs Considerations
» Expert Witness Evaluation
» Temporary Orders
» Parenting Time Denial Issues
What I Do For You
Whether this is your first child custody case or a modification of existing orders, I will discuss with you the circumstances of your case, and then evaluate the best way to proceed as well as give an indication of what I believe is a likely outcome based on my experience with such matters.
Depending on the nature of your case, I will suggest expert witnesses to assist you and the Court in child custody evaluations.
Child custody cases require a presentation of witness examinations, evidence, and law that addresses the best interests of the children which is comprised of many factors in Colorado. I will tailor the presentation of your case in an optimal way for you.
Evidence is the core of a Court child custody determination. I will assist you in determining the quality and quality of the evidence to be provided to the Court at any hearings.
Unfortuntely, Court orders are not always followed. Whether you or the other party has violated child custody orders, I will represent you to ensure your rights are protected.
Settlement makes the environment around the children much less stressful, and lets you have more control over your case rather than taking chances with a stranger in a black robe who doesn’t know anyone in you family. I will help you acheive a parenting plan that makes sense to be approved by the Court.
The choices you make now set the stage for the future. For instance, you may agree to a 50/50 custody split because you are tired while knowing that it is not good for the children for various reasons. But you think you can easily modify the orders later to give you more time. You later file a motion to modify parenting time stating reasons that existed at the time you agreed to the 50/50 arrangement. The Court may well deny your motion, because there has been no change in circumstances, and you previously agreed that the 50/50 split was in the children’s best interests.
“We’ll figure it out” is a bad agreement for a Court Order. It is very pleasing to me when the parties have reached an agreement in a child custody matter. A battle over the kids can have damaging effects on everyone involved. Sometimes, the parties are so cooperative that they wish to not be burdened by specifics on court orders. Examples include general agreements that the parties will work out on their own: who will pick up and drop off the children and when and where; what school the children will attend once they come of age; whether tattoos and body piercings will be allowed; and so forth. Optimism about the future does not predict the future. Therefore, default orders that are specific should always be entered. The parties are always free to agree otherwise outside of court on their own, but where they do not agree, the default orders kick in. By way of example, suppose the parties just agree to work it out as to where little Johnnie goes to school in 3 years when he’s old enough. After all, the parents get along well and live in the same school district. However, in the meantime, one of the parties moves to another school district and each parent registers little Johnnie in their own district. So two schools have little Johnnie registered, and both parents honestly believe that their school is the best. Guess what happenes next? This could have been avoided by putting a default school in the agreement to avoid such situations. I’ve seen this too many times. “We’ll figure it out” is a bad agreement for a Court Order.
Unlike rocks against thrashing waves, children while resilient, are not impervious. As they develop, trying to “find themselves” and establish their identities, no small amount of discomfort, pain, and possibly damage is done when they hear themselves discussed in the third person by their parents in custody conversations. Much as a tennis ball volleyed between racquets, children can come to see themselves as the helpless focus of the match, or worse, the cause. It is rare to find anyone who either likes or at least is indifferent to being present and discussed by others without being involved in the conversation – particularly so with children who understand these things.
The solution is simple: Do not talk about the children, unless it is praise, with the other parent when the children can hear you. Be mindful that children have an almost supernatural ability to hear you when you don’t want them to. Texts and emails are useful here, and they keep a record of what was said, which has the added advantage of checking your impulses more than “verbal outings”. Where the parents have a more hostile relationship, the talking parents app (talkingparents.com) is very useful, and courts will sometimes order that the app must be used to communicate about the children.
Sometimes you want certain custody orders because you believe something bad happened to a child caused by the other parent. The reason you believe this is because the child told you. You have some problems here. You aren’t allowed to tell the court what someone else said. That’s hearsay. The person that said it has to tell the Court. However, the Court won’t usually allow the child to talk to the Court to say what happened. Courts are protective that way – They don’t want the child participating in a legal proceeding. So, what are you supposed to do?
The answer is to get a CFI. This is a child & family investigator which is trained expert appointed by the Court to investigate parenting issues. The CFI will talk with the child and take that into account in recommending a parenting plan to the Court. Now there are a lot of issues that go into this CFI business that I’m not getting into here. One may or may not be right for you. The important thing here is to know that if what your child has to say is very important, then you most likely need a CFI to get the child’s voice heard. Talk to me about it.
O.K. A child custody case is filed, and you may not get a final hearing for many months or even a year. What are you supposed to do in the meantime? Well, hopefully you and the other parent can agree on some plan in the meantime and let the Court know. If not, then you can ask the Court for temporary orders. If the Court agrees that temporary orders are needed, then a short hearing will be more quickly scheduled to deal with temorary custody while the case is still pending. Agreements are always best, but not always possible.