Establishing official child custody orders through the family court can be important to setting clear boundaries and rules for time with – and legal authority over – a child. It can also be critical to empowering you with enforcement options, should the other parent fail to live up to the custody orders in any way.
If you need help seeking a formal child custody order in Colorado, you can turn to a Fort Collins custody & family lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC for effective help and exceptional representation.
Our attorneys have extensive experience advocating parents’ rights and helping them resolve various issues related to child custody. We are ready to meet with, advise and represent you whenever you are ready for experienced help and support with your child custody case.
Meanwhile, you are invited to continue exploring the rest of this page for additional information regarding the establishment of child custody orders in Colorado.
Before pursuing any custody-related request with a Colorado court, it’s first important to understand that the term “child custody” is no longer used by Colorado family courts.
Instead, custody is referred to as “parental responsibilities,” which includes both:
Parenting time and decision-making responsibilities do not have to be split the same way. For example, while a court may award one parent with more parenting time (i.e., primary physical custody), it may also decree that both parents have equal decision-making responsibilities (i.e., a 50-50 split).
Whenever a Colorado court is establishing child custody, it will focus on making determinations that serve the best interests of the involved child(ren).
The steps you need to take to petition a Colorado family court for a child custody order will depend on various factors, like (but not necessarily limited to) whether:
Different court forms1 will need to be completed and filed based on the type of order you are seeking. A family law attorney at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC can provide you with more details about the specific forms (and other factors) that are necessary for establishing child custody orders in Colorado.
In general, here are the steps that parents should take to open up a child custody case in Colorado:
This, of course, is just the beginning of the child custody process in Colorado. What lies ahead depends on what custody matter(s) parents are disputing and whether they can resolve those without court intervention.
Often, the court will order parents to attend mediation for child custody disputes, urging and hoping that parents can come to an agreement on their custody dispute. Mediation can provide a neutral forum for discussing the issues and working towards a compromise. Even if parents cannot work out every issue, they may be able to make meaningful progress in some areas, potentially cutting down on the level of court involvement needed to resolve the case.
Some benefits of mediation for child custody disputes can include:
Parents opening custody cases in Colorado will usually have to fill out and submit the following forms to the court:
On top of these Colorado child custody forms, there may be others to complete, if issues like paternity or divorce decrees from other states are involved in the case.
Click here to download Colorado child custody forms to submit to the court. Forms are available in Word and PDF formats, and they should be filed in the district where your child currently lives (here is a list of the family courts in Colorado, by county).
After you file all of the necessary forms and pay the filing fees, you will receive a Case Management Order (CMO), with your upcoming court dates, from the court clerk. Your CMO should also detail any other forms you need to complete and submit for your case.
Under certain circumstances, yes, non-parents of a child can file petitions for child custody orders in Colorado. Specifically, someone other than a parent can seek custody orders when:
Other requirements may apply.
Generally, it’s advised that you file a custody petition in the county in which the child lives.
Once your custody petition has been filed, what happens next will depend on your circumstances, needs and the nature of your petition. For instance, any combination of the following may occur after your custody petition has been filed:
A lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC can explain what to expect in your custody case so you are prepared for each step in the process.
If you are preparing to seek child custody or need help resolving any custody-related matter, contact an experienced Fort Collins custody & family lawyer at the Cossitt Law Firm, LLC to find out more about your rights and options.
Contact us or email our firm to set up a consultation and discover how we can help you. If you cannot make it to our offices for this meeting, we offer consultations via phone and Skype.
With the Cossitt Law Firm on your side, you can be confident that you have an experienced advocate at every phase of your custody case. You can also count on our lawyers to:
From offices in Fort Collins, we represent clients throughout Larimer County and the state of Colorado.
1: Downloadable child custody forms from the Colorado Judicial Branch
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.
Formerly known as child visitation, Parenting Time outlines the schedule and conditions under which each parent may see their children
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