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Fort Collins Child Custody Lawyer

Count on our Fort Collins child custody lawyer to walk you through each step of the custody process.

If you are battling over custody of your child, there are many factors to consider. Child custody situations in a divorce can create significant disagreements between the soon-to-be-ex spouses. Determining whether one or both parents will have decision-making responsibilities and where the children will live is only the beginning. We will ensure that the interests of you and your children receive the attention they deserve.

At The Cossitt Law Firm, we have a long history of helping parents work through these kinds of cases. Our child custody attorney in Fort Collins has extensive knowledge of family law in Colorado. We use this knowledge to make sure our clients receive the best possible representation after a divorce.

If you are facing a child custody hearing, contact us for a case review today. We will be ready to begin working on your case as soon as you choose to hire us.

Understanding Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

In Colorado, the allocation of parental responsibilities (or APR) is the legal process of determining child custody, according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. It determines whether one or both parents will have decision-making responsibilities for the children, such as school attendance, medical care decisions, religious teachings, and extracurricular activities.

The APR will deal with the amount of time each parent spends with the children through a parenting time schedule, as well as setting up any child support payment requirement. The courts in Colorado sometimes mandate attendance at a parenting class for both parents, especially those with young children.

If one parent may see the children only under supervised visitation, the APR spells out how this must happen. If one parent has drug or alcohol abuse problems, the APR may require this parent to take a sobriety test before seeing the children. Whenever special circumstances will be part of the visitation or an overnight stay, the APR should spell out these circumstances. Our Fort Collins child custody lawyer can work with you to create an APR that fits the specific needs of your family. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with our attorney.

What the Court Considers in an APR for Child Custody

When parents decide to divorce, either parent can choose to start the APR filing. Two potential circumstances exist with relation to filing an APR:

  • Petitioner and co-petitioner: When the parents file the allocation of parental responsibilities together, meaning they essentially agree on the specifics, the court calls them a petitioner and co-petitioner.
  • Petitioner and respondent: When just one parent files the allocation of parental responsibilities, meaning there is no agreement between the two, the court calls the filing parent the petitioner and the other parent the respondent.

When setting up an APR, the two parents may come to the judge with a fully developed agreement. They may agree on everything involved in caring for the children. In other cases, the two parents may not be able to negotiate a settlement on their own, so a judge must decide during a hearing. Our child custody lawyer will represent you in this hearing. Either way, the judge will make the final decision. The judge has the ability to alter any agreement. The judge’s ultimate responsibility is to keep the best interests of the child in mind at all times when making a decision on an APR. These may include:

  • The preferences of the child
  • Observed interactions between child and parents
  • Observed interactions between child and grandparents
  • Presence of siblings
  • Mental health of parents or child
  • Proximity of either parent to the child’s home
  • Willingness and ability of parents to place the child’s needs first.
If the situation for either parent or for the children changes in the future, parenting plans may be modified. However, the judge usually considers modifications only when they are in the best interest of the child.

How Child Custody Situations Move Forward

To start the process of determining custody after a divorce in Colorado, you will need to start negotiations with your soon-to-be-ex spouse. It is best to have a Fort Collins child custody attorney help you with these negotiations to ensure that you and your children have the best possible custody arrangement. These discussions should determine items such as:

  • The amount of time each of you will spend with the children
  • Which parent the children will live with primarily
  • Whether one or both parents should be involved in major decisions regarding the children’s lives.

The court addresses each of these issues separately. If one parent receives the ability to make the decisions alone for the children’s lives, it is still possible that both parents will spend nearly an equal amount of time with the children. Just because a judge determines that the child will live with one parent primarily, the other parent may still spend quite a bit of time with the children.

The parents will discuss these items during the child custody negotiation phase before filing forms with the court about their preferences.  If the parents agree on everything, the court may simply approve the plan as is. If disagreements exist, the court may rule on those issues or request mediation on those issues. The court starts the process for deciding on disputes through an initial status conference (ISC). These conferences and meetings can last for several weeks or even months.

If the case has quite a few complexities, and if the parents are struggling to agree on the majority of issues, the process almost certainly will take longer. When you work with our Fort Collins child custody lawyer, we will evaluate your situation and help you understand your options. We will help you come to a resolution as soon as possible but will also make certain your interests are well protected at each step.

Hire a Child Custody Attorney at The Cossitt Law Firm to Represent You

To ensure all the agreements are legally binding and do not violate Colorado law, consider hiring our Fort Collins child custody lawyer at The Cossitt Law Firm. We can work with you at any point in the proceedings, although things often run smoother when hiring us as early as possible after deciding to divorce.

If your spouse has legal representation, you will be at a disadvantage in negotiations without our team on your side. Although your spouse’s lawyer may draft documents that are legally binding, he or she is not going to be looking out for your interests. Instead, you will want to hire our child custody lawyer as your own representative. We will represent you, and only you, in all negotiations and hearings. Hiring our team will give you the best chance of receiving an outcome that reflects your needs and concerns in the case.

Understanding Child Custody Terms: Joint Custody and Sole Custody in Colorado

Colorado uses the terms “APR” and “parental responsibilities” in its child custody cases. The state’s courts avoid using terms like “joint custody” and “sole custody.” Because these terms are common elsewhere, however, the process of APR may be easier to understand using these terms.

Preferences for Equal Parenting Responsibilities in a Child Custody Case

What is called “joint custody” in other states refers to parents who spend an almost equal amount of time with the children. Both parents will participate in making important decisions for the children, too. The courts in Colorado, however, treat time and decisions separately. Ideally, the courts prefer that both parents spend a nearly equal amount of time with the children. The courts also prefer that both parents make important decisions for the children together. Even if one parent receives a primary residential parent designation from the Colorado courts, the other aspects of parenting may be split nearly equally.

On the other hand, if courts believe that one parent may endanger the children, either because of substance abuse or domestic violence, they will limit that parent’s time with the children. If sharing responsibilities evenly is not in the best interests of the children, the court will allow one parent to make important decisions about the children’s day-to-day lives. If one parent lives far away from the primary parent’s residence and the children, the courts may limit the amount of time the children will spend with the distant parent. This helps the children maintain a more normal life, with fewer disruptions for travel.

How Our Fort Collins Child Custody Lawyer Fights for Your Rights

Even if divorcing parents agree on many aspects of caring for the children, disagreements can quickly arise. By hiring our child custody lawyer in Fort Collins to represent you, your concerns will receive the attention they deserve. We will negotiate with your spouse’s counsel, seeking resolution to these issues. If we cannot come to an agreement, we will present your concerns in a court hearing.

At The Cossitt Law Firm, we will give you professional representation at all times. If you and your spouse struggle to discuss items regarding the children with civility, we can help to diffuse the emotions in the room. Even though some people may believe that bringing lawyers into a custody hearing can create additional stress, in actuality, the opposite is true.

Our Fort Collins child custody lawyer deals with situations like these regularly. Our team knows how to help everyone remain on task. For a review of your situation, contact us today.

Why You Can Count on Our Child Custody Lawyer in Fort Collins

Our past clients know just how hard we worked for them during their cases. You can be certain that we will maintain this same level of integrity and hard work when representing you.

We take great pride in being able to stand up for families that need our help in resolving legal concerns during divorce proceedings. When meeting with our clients, certain questions pop up with regularity. Here are some of the most frequent questions we receive.

FAQs About Child Custody

Colorado courts cannot give one parent preferential treatment over the other in a custody decision based on the gender of the parent. However, if the mother served as the primary caregiver for the children during the marriage, the court may rule in her favor more frequently. The court may feel that maintaining continuity in caregiving is in the best interest of the children.

When parents and their legal representatives cannot agree on parental responsibility decisions, a judge may order mediation. This means holding a meeting with a specially trained mediator who will try to help the two sides find a solution. If the mediator cannot help, the judge will make a final decision during a custody hearing.

No. Colorado courts prefer the children not be present during hearings. Occasionally, a judge may meet with a child separately, if the child is emotionally mature enough to participate in the proceedings, but children rarely attend the actual hearing.

The parenting plan for infants does differ somewhat from the plan typical for older children. Courts are more likely to name one parent as a primary caregiver for an infant. The other parent still sees the infant; but by naming a primary caregiver, the courts hope to help the infant’s overall development. As the child ages, a more equitable split of time likely will occur, barring unusual circumstances.

Colorado statute § 14-10-124 allows the judge to consider the wishes of the child regarding allocation of parenting time. The judge’s determination of the child’s level of emotional maturity plays a role in whether the judge chooses to consider the child’s wishes. The judge still makes the final decision. Utilizing child and family evaluators is one way to ensure the judge hears and understands your child’s wishes. Child therapists and counselors are another source of information for the judge regarding the child’s desires about parenting-time division. Our child custody attorney can help you find these experts. Under limited circumstances, your child may talk directly to the judge in private as part of the official record.

A parenting plan is the legal document detailing the sharing of custody. It can specify regular parenting time, holiday and vacation parenting time, telephone contact, and the process for making major decisions. If you share child custody in Colorado, having a parenting plan in place is a good idea, even if both parents currently agree on these items. When disagreements arise in the future, having a parenting plan can keep both sides on the same page. Should the disagreements rise to the level of animosity, a parenting plan gives you a means of receiving fair treatment.

It depends on the individual case. Child support does not occur in every child custody case. Colorado child support law considers the incomes of both parents and the scheduled number of overnight stays. This formula becomes the guideline amount of child support. When good cause exists, though, the court may deviate from the guideline amount.

When payment of child support is part of the divorce judgment, it continues until the child turns 19 years old or otherwise emancipates. For dependent and disabled children who will not emancipate, child support can continue after the age of 19, according to the Colorado Office of Economic Security.

Our Child Custody Attorney in Fort Collins Is Ready for Any Circumstance

Not only does our team have extensive knowledge of child custody and APR rules in Colorado, our child custody attorney can also handle all aspects of your divorce. We understand how difficult and confusing going through this process can be, and we are ready to help.

Our Colorado divorce lawyers have extensive knowledge of family law in the state. This gives us the ability to handle divorces that have unusual circumstances, as well as divorces that follow a more routine path. We understand that child custody is one of the most important aspects of a divorce. Going through a divorce is especially difficult for children, and we strive to ensure that the custody situation helps the children ease the transition into the new family structure. Our Fort Collins child custody lawyer is ready for any eventuality, including some with unusual situations, such as the following.

Military Child Custody Lawyer in Fort Collins

When an actively serving member of the military is facing the possibility of divorce back home in Colorado, it can be a highly stressful situation. Multiple aspects of federal and Colorado family law exist to help military members in cases like this. Our military child custody lawyers are ready to deliver the representation you deserve.

Under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), military members on deployment have the ability to request stays of legal judgments. These stays can help military members avoid receiving unfavorable judgments from the court regarding child custody while they are unable to attend hearings. We have a full understanding of the SCRA, as well as other laws designed to help active military members involved in family law cases. Our child custody lawyer in Fort Collins understands the trust you’re placing in us in this type of situation. We take our responsibilities to defend your rights very seriously. We keep the lines of communication with you open at all times, even when you are in a far-off location.

Our Fort Collins Child Custody Lawyer Can Help with Guardianship

In some divorce cases, establishing the best interests of the children will involve naming a legal guardian. This person will manage the day-to-day affairs of the minor children, rather than the parents. Some of the reasons the courts in Colorado may choose to name a legal guardian for children of divorcing parents are:

  • Parents are confined in jail or prison
  • Parents have been accused of child abuse
  • Parents have been accused of child neglect
  • Parents are suffering from severe illnesses
  • Parents have substance abuse issues.

Our legal guardianship attorneys know the stress this type of situation can create for everyone involved. We understand that you did not undertake the decision to try to seek guardianship lightly. We appreciate your trusting us to help with this situation. We will fight as hard as we can for the most favorable outcome for you and for the children.

Grandparents Seeking Child Custody

Sometimes, the best interest of the children involves awarding custody to the grandparents. If this is the case, our team will represent you and introduce this request to the courts. When you as grandparents already have a close relationship with the children, making you formal guardians is a natural step forward. We will collect facts that show why the children should live with you as grandparents. Our child custody attorney in Fort Collins will show the courts your special relationship and how you can keep the children’s’ lives as stress-free as possible after the divorce.

Sometimes, the best interest of the children involves awarding custody to the grandparents. If this is the case, our team will represent you and introduce this request to the courts. When you as grandparents already have a close relationship with the children, making you formal guardians is a natural step forward. We will collect facts that show why the children should live with you as grandparents. Our child custody attorney in Fort Collins will show the courts your special relationship and how you can keep the children’s’ lives as stress-free as possible after the divorce.

Even if the parents will retain custody after the divorce, grandparents still may want to remain involved with their grandchildren. However, the rights of the children’s grandparents can sometimes take a back seat to other decisions in divorce hearings.

Often, grandparents who want to establish visitation rights with the grandchildren will need to be proactive to ensure the court addresses their concerns. Our child custody attorney in Fort Collins knows how to defend the rights of grandparents after a divorce. Courts rarely will consider the visitation rights of grandparents until after the decisions regarding the APR for the parents has been made. After hiring our team of experts, grandparents can trust us to stand up for their rights when it’s time to do so in the case.

Our Child Custody Attorney in Fort Collins Is Ready to Discuss Your Case

If you have additional questions, contact our Fort Collins child custody lawyer today. After you hire us, we will be ready to answer any questions you may have, helping you learn about your parental rights. At The Cossitt Law Firm, we understand each individual case has many facets. We tailor our representation to your family’s needs. By taking the time to get to know you and understand what is important to you, we can craft a strategy that fits your circumstance. Contact our child custody attorney today for a consultation to discuss your concerns and to learn how the law can protect your well-being after a divorce that involves child custody hearings.

Client Testimonial

I cannot recommend Tom Cossitt and his team enough. He prioritized the safety of myself and my daughter and made himself available 24/7. At our hearing, the judge said that we had the best relocation presentation he had ever seen and we were able to relocate! Tom was aggressive and confident in court and definitely knew his stuff. - Hannah Wilmes (Google Review)

Top Child Custody Related Pages at Cossitt Law Firm

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Emergency Child Custody & Endangerment

Colorado offers a method for immediate relief when a child is at imminent risk of physical or emotional harm by a parent. The court can act immediately to suspend all unsupervised with the parent allegedly putting the child at risk and place them under emergency child custody with a legal guardian.

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Parenting Plan

As all families are unique, one form of parenting plan will not meet the needs of every family. The best parenting plan will be well developed and custom tailored to the individuals involved. Some parenting plans incorporate terms that will apply far into the future, as when a child emancipates into adulthood.
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Modification of Child Custody

As life changes, child custody orders may no longer fit your needs or circumstances. When this occurs, seeking a child custody modification can be necessary to officially change court orders related to parenting time and/or decision-making responsibilities.

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Parenting Time Articles

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Guide to Parenting Time

Formerly known as child visitation, Parenting Time outlines the schedule and conditions under which each parent may see their children

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Holiday Parenting Time

What holidays do you celebrate and how do you enjoy them? We can assist with crafting a holiday parenting time schedule to meet the needs of everyone involved.
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Parenting Time Schedules

Every child custody case will have a parenting plan that details the schedule so each parent may enjoy parenting time with their child. The schedule is commonly broken into three categories.
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Long Distance Parentings

When parents relocate away from one another, the schedule should be molded to the accommodate logistics, travel costs, and the quality time between parents and children.
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  • "I am very appreciative of Toms services. English is a second language to me, and this process seemed difficult because of that barrier. He was very patient and thorough making sure I understood everything before he proceeded. I will recommend him to everyone! He truly cares about you, as does his wonderful, helpful team"

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  • "I had a very challenging case, one that could have had indefinite financial consequences. Tom Cossitt evaluated my case and identified several strategies for moving forward. I chose one and Tom developed and implemented that strategy with speed and with the utmost in professionalism. The documents he drafted on my behalf, based on extensive research and case law / precedent were thorough and comprehensive. When the Court ruled, it used the arguments as developed by Tom Cossitt verbatim in its decision, and the case was decided in my favor. Needless to say, I was pleased beyond words. Based on my experience and the outcome of my case, I would highly recommend Tom Cossitt to anyone requiring the services of a family law attorney."

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  • "I met with as many as 10 different attorneys before coming across Thomas. After our initial consultation, I was very pleased with his knowledge and realistic expectations. During the really tough time, Thomas kept me calm and helped tremendously to get custody of my daughter. He kept me informed on what was going on and would ask for my input; if it was something that was unrealistic or could be done a different way, Thomas would tell me right away. During the hearings, he was amazing. He kept a professional attitude and was great at cross examinations. He took in all of the facts and evidence, and was able to present them efficiently and effectively. Ultimately helping me gain custody of my child."

    Review from AVVO

The Cossitt Difference: Fort Collins Divorce Attorneys That Care

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