Common questions, concerns, and misunderstandings
Don’t I have parental rights if I’m on the birth certificate?
Not without an APR order, although a father has legal responsibility for child support.
At what age does my child get to choose which parent they live with?
There is no statutory provision for a child to ever get to choose a parent. However, in practice, most courts understand that it is difficult to impossible to force a 16-17 year old to go to a parent if they don’t want to. The statutory requirement of C.R.S. 14-10-124 is that the court consider, as one of many factors, the wishes of the child IF the child is old enough to have an independent, reasoned opinion. Most courts consider this age to be 12-13.
The mother only lets me see the child(ren) when she wants. What can I do?
File for APR. It will generally take a minimum of 3 months to get a court order if the matter is contested, but after that, both parents will have court-ordered parenting time.
What is legal custody?
Legal custody in Colorado is determined by who has decision-making rights for the children for major decisions such as medical care, education, religious instruction and extracurricular activities. Most of the time decision-making is shared by the parents, which a mechanism for how to decide when there are differences of opinion.
Is Colorado a mother’s or father’s rights state?
The Colorado legislature has declared that it is in children’s best interest to have both parents in a child’s life if both are fit parents. Fit does not mean perfect; it means parents who can reasonably look after children and keep them physically, mentally and emotionally safe. Colorado courts have rejected the “tender years” theory and are specifically forbidden to award parenting time to one parent—generally the mother—because of the gender of that parent.
What do I do if the other parent isn’t following the order regarding parenting time?
There is a specific motion regarding disputes over parenting time that can and should be filed if a parent withholds court-ordered parenting time. If the court finds that the parent violated the parenting time order, the court generally orders make-up time and must order the violating parent to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and costs.
We need to change the parenting time schedule and the other parent won’t agree.
Most parenting plans, especially for young children, need to be modified as the children get older. This can either be done by agreement of the parties and filed with the court as a stipulation, or can be done by either party with a motion to modify parenting time.
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