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Co-Parenting

parenting planIf you are a parent in the process of a Colorado divorce, then you may have already started working out a divorce agreement, but there is more to a divorce than your financial settlement. For parents who will maintain joint custody of their children, it is important to develop a co-parenting contract. While this agreement is not entered into the court as "law," it serves as a guideline for helping parents who want to minimize conflict while making small and large decisions on behalf of the children.

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shared parentingIf your marriage is headed for divorce and you have children, it is important to consider the importance of shared parenting. In the past, custody was "awarded" to one parent or the other, essentially excluding the non-custodial parent from of the everyday lives of the children. But there has been a sea change in how family court judges view custody. Family court judges and mediators across the country have embraced decision-making that honors the "best interests of the children." This could still mean they live with mom in the family home, but it is just as likely to be a shared custody decision.

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cohabitation_with_kidsA lot has been written about the subject of cohabitation and whether it is a good idea to "try on" a partner before marriage. With so many couples getting divorced, even the most values-oriented demographic groups are starting to embrace the idea of living together. But is it wise to cohabitate when one or both partners have children? This was the topic of a Washington Post Q & A in the "On Love" section of their website, where readers are invited to weigh in by asking questions to an expert moderator.

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stepparentingIf there was ever a “subtle art” that requires extreme sensitivity, it would have to be step-parenting.  Just ask any stepchild how they feel about having a stepparent in their lives and they will not hesitate to tell say how they really feel.  Teenagers are particularly vocal about stepparents, who they see as an unnatural intrusion into their family life.

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blog-logoAs a divorced or separated parent in Colorado, dealing with potential job relocation issues can be tricky, especially if you are the non-custodial parent.  Depending on how far away your relocation takes you, it could dramatically change the amount of time you get to spend with your kids.  But parents are not the only ones affected by relocation.  According to Colorado Springs family law attorneys who deal with these situations frequently, children are also required to make some major lifestyle changes. 

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blog-logoAsk any Colorado Springs divorced individual with children what is the most complicated part of divorce, and their answer will probably have something to do with the children.  Whether the issue is with visitation, enforcing rules across two different households, dealing with their child’s emotional distress, or the simple exhaustion of becoming a single parent; divorce issues continue to unfold for many years after the final papers are signed.  For this reason, it is very important to include as much detail as possible in a parenting plan and custody agreement

As a Colorado Springs child custody lawyer, I see a lot of couples spend countless hours hashing out a custody agreement in mediation or in court.  What they don’t always realize is that even after a parenting plan is in place and the divorce is final, they both have to play a role in “raising” the children.  What usually happens is both parents start out with the best intentions to stay involved with every detail of their children’s lives; following the parenting plan to the letter. 

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Gone are the days when a Colorado court would award custody of the children to the mother automatically.  Today’s courts will look at a number of factors, including the home environments of each parent, whether the children are exposed to drug or alcohol abuse, suitable child care arrangements and the quality of living arrangements and educational opportunities.  A Colorado Springs Family Lawyer will be able to examine your current home situation and help you construct a strong case that will be approved by the courts.

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In general, when it comes to a final decision on custody, Colorado courts will put both parents on equal fitting and ask them to convince the court as to where the children should live.  However, once a child reaches the age of 12, the court will also give them a say in where they want to live. 

If you are trying to convince a court that your current custody arrangement isn’t working, then you will need to present some very strong evidence to prove this. Most Colorado courts are very reluctant to uproot children from their familiar surroundings without a convincing argument showing that the change is in the children’s best interests.  Any decision that is made will place a high priority on stability and continuity.

Situations which the court may approve a change in custody include when the child is having serious issues with a step-parent, or has become combative with their custodial parent.  In cases where the child’s academic progress is suffering for a long period of time, or he or she is depressed in the current home environment, the courts may consider a change. 

If you need some advice on how to move forward with the court process for determining custody, a Colorado Springs Family Lawyer can help you immensely. 

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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