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Child Custody
Kids and dad during a child custody battle


When it comes to child custody, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every family's situation is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. That's why it's so important to talk to a Colorado family law attorney who can help you understand your options and make the best decisions for your family. Contact us today!

Child Custody Schedules by Age

Child custody schedules can be tailored to suit the age and developmental needs of the child. For younger children, frequent, shorter visits with both parents are often recommended to maintain a sense of security and attachment. As children grow older, more extended and flexible visitation arrangements can be introduced to accommodate school, extracurricular activities, and social life. Creating age-appropriate custody schedules ensures that the child's best interests are met, fostering a healthy and supportive environment for their overall growth and well-being.

Custody Schedule When 50/50 is Not Appropriate

There is no common parenting schedule for when equal time is not in the child's best interests. Reasons why a 50/50 schedule could be inappropriate include, but are not limited to: 

  • The parents live far away from each other. 

  • The child is an infant. 

  • The child has a disability.

  • A parent does not have appropriate accommodations for the child.  

  • A parent is abusive towards the child. 

  • A parent neglects the child. 

  • A parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

  • A parent has a physical or mental disability. 

  • A parent is violent. 

Depending on the situation, a parent may still be able to exercise parenting time on a limited basis if the child is a baby, or on a restricted basis (e.g., under supervision) if parent is violent or out of control, or on a schedule that accommodates one parent living out of state. The possibilities are endless and you can still agree on a parenting schedule outside of court so long as the court finds that your schedule is in the child's best interests. 

What are Dinner Visits?

Dinner visits are an opportunity for you to spend time with your child on a day that you do not have custody. Dinner visits are typically scheduled after school during the week for 1-4 hours to allow you to spend time with your child when you do not have equal parenting time. Dinner visits do not necessarily mean that you have to eat dinner with your child. Rather, it's more intended as break between an extended absence away from your child to give you a chance to bond.


Modification of Parenting Time - C.R.S § 14-10-129


Parenting time orders are not set in stone and can be modified if circumstances change. A parent can request a modification of parenting time if there are substantial changes in the child's or parent's circumstances, such as a relocation, job change, or significant changes in the child's needs. To modify parenting time, the parent must demonstrate that the requested change is in the care for the child.

Enforcement of Parenting Time Orders


Unfortunately, not all parents comply with court-ordered parenting time arrangements. When a parent violates a parenting time order, there are legal remedies available to enforce compliance. These remedies may include make-up parenting time, attorney fees, monetary penalties, modifications to the parenting time arrangement, and even contempt of court proceedings against the non-compliant parent.

Parenting time plays a significant role in the lives of divorced or separated parents and their children. It is important to understand the legal framework, types of arrangements, modification procedures, and enforcement options to ensure a positive and stable environment for children post-divorce. Seeking professional legal assistance can make a significant difference in navigating the complexities of parenting time and safeguarding the best interests of your children.

Child Custody Agreement without Court

A child custody agreement without court involvement can be achieved through an amicable and cooperative approach between parents. In such cases, parents work together to create a mutually acceptable arrangement that outlines the custody and visitation schedule, decision-making authority, and financial responsibilities for the child. This informal agreement allows parents to maintain more control over the process and tailor the arrangement to suit the unique needs of their family. However, it's essential to ensure the agreement is comprehensive, clear, and in the best interests of the child. While not legally binding like a court order, an amicable custody agreement can be a practical and harmonious solution for many families, fostering a positive co-parenting relationship and prioritizing the child's well-being.

Grounds for Full Custody of Child 

Grounds for full custody of a child typically arise in situations where one parent can demonstrate that granting them sole custody is in the child's best interests. Some common grounds for full custody include instances of neglect, abuse, or endangerment by the other parent. Substance abuse issues, mental health concerns, or a history of criminal behavior can also be significant factors. Additionally, if one parent can show a consistent pattern of providing a stable and nurturing environment while actively fostering the child's physical, emotional, and educational well-being, it may strengthen their case for full custody. However, every custody case is unique, and the court will carefully consider all evidence and arguments before making a decision that prioritizes the child's safety and welfare.

When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With

A child can usually decide which parent to live with when they reach a certain age, which varies by jurisdiction, and the court believes they are mature enough to make such a decision.

Who Claims Child on Taxes with 50/50 Custody

In cases of 50/50 custody, both parents may wonder who claims the child on taxes. Typically, the IRS gives the right to claim the child as a dependent to the custodial parent, i.e., the parent with whom the child resides for more than half the year. However, this rule can be altered if both parents agree to an alternative arrangement or if a court order designates the non-custodial parent as eligible to claim the child. It's crucial for parents to communicate and possibly seek legal advice to determine the most suitable approach and avoid any conflicts during tax time.

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Colorado Custody - C.R.S § 14-10-124

Colorado child custody law recognizes that it is in a child's best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents. However, Colorado also recognizes that every family is different and that there may be circumstances where that is not possible or desirable. In this page, we use the word "custody" interchangeably with "Parenting Time," or "Allocation of Parental Responsibilities." The courts categorize "custody" into (a) Parenting Time (physical custody); and (b) Decision-Making responsibility (legal custody). 

If you are filing for custody in Colorado then you file a Petition for Allocation for Parental Responsibilities to establish custody. Parenting Time means the amount of time that each parent spends with the child in a calendar year. Joint physical custody in Colorado is defined as when both parents share equal responsibility for the child's primary residence. This type of arrangement allows both parents to be actively involved in their child's life and ensures that the child has a stable and consistent home environment. There are many benefits to joint physical custody, including giving the child a sense of stability, providing both parents with an equal opportunity to be involved in their child's life, and ensuring that the child has access to both parents. While joint physical custody is not right for every family, it can be a successful arrangement for many families in Colorado.


Decision-Making means a parent's right to make major decision on behalf of the child for things like school choice, doctors, medical treatment, sports enrollment, religion, and extracurricular activities. Non-major decisions for things like curfew, chores, screen time, etc. should be left to the parent who is exercising parenting time. Joint legal custody is when both parents share the legal responsibility for their child. This means that they must both agree on major decisions such as where the child will live, what school they will attend, and what medical treatment they will receive. In Colorado, joint legal custody is the presumption in most cases. This means that unless there is a good reason why one parent should have sole legal custody, the court will assume that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child. 


Types of Custody

Child custody in Colorado arrangements typically involve the following types:

  1. Sole Custody: In this arrangement, one parent is granted physical and legal custody of the child, making all major decisions regarding their upbringing without the need to consult the other parent. The non-custodial parent may have visitation rights.

  2. Joint Custody: Colorado encourages joint custody, where both parents share physical and legal custody of the child. They collaborate on decision-making and parenting responsibilities, providing the child with ample time and contact with both parents.

  3. Physical Custody: Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child primarily resides. In joint custody, the child may spend equal or significant time with both parents.

  4. Legal Custody: Legal custody grants the right to make important decisions about the child's education, healthcare, religion, and other major aspects of their life. In joint legal custody, both parents share this authority.


Colorado courts prioritize the child's best interests in determining custody arrangements, and they consider factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, their physical and emotional needs, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and nurturing environment. Parents are encouraged to collaborate and develop parenting plans that ensure the child's well-being and support their healthy growth and development.


How Does Colorado Determine Custody?

Colorado courts determine custody, including parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, by determining what's in the best interests of the child. C.R.S. § 14-10-124. The most important thing to consider is the child's safety and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child. Colorado believes that in most circumstances, it is in the best interests of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the children and it urges parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents. However, the court recognizes that co-parenting is not appropriate in all circumstances. 

Ultimately, the court determines custody based on what it finds are in the best interests of the children, with the child's safety being the number one factor. In addition to the child's safety, the court will consider the following factors: 

  • The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time. 

  • The wishes of the child if the child is mature enough to express reasoned and independent preference as to the parenting time schedule. 

  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his/her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests. 

  • Any report related to domestic violence. 

  • The child's adjustment to his/her home, school, and community. 

  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time. 

  • The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party unless one party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect. 

  • Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support. 

  • The physical proximity of the parties to each other (e.g., how far away you live from the other parent). 

Can the Court Take Away My Custody?

Yes. The court recognizes that co-parenting is not appropriate in all circumstances. Consequently, the court may reduce or restrict your parenting time if it determines that your child's contact with you would endanger his/her physical health or significantly impair his/her emotional development. The judge will consider the following factors when deciding whether to restrict your parenting time: 

  • ​Domestic Violence

  • Child Abuse

  • Neglect

  • Drug Use

  • Alcohol Abuse

  • Sexual Assault

What do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?

The court determines decision-making responsibility for the parents based upon the best interests of the child. The court can either allocate joint decision-making between parents, or individually to one parent or the other. The court considers the following factors when allocating decision-making responsibility:


  • Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly.  

  • Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child. 

  • Whether an allocation of joint decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parents. 


Can the Court Take Away My Decision Making Responsibility? 

Yes. Colorado does not believe it is in your child's best interest to allocate joint decision-making if it determines that a parent has committed child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault. If domestic violence is an issue, the court will not grant joint decision-making responsibility over the objection of the other parent or legal representative of the child, unless it finds that there is credible evidence of the ability of the parents to make decision cooperatively in the best interest of the child in a manner that is safe for the abused party and the child. 


Common Joint Custody Schedules

The court encourages parents to make their own parenting schedule outside of court, and the judge gives you multiple opportunities to do so before going to trial. You are free to agree on any custody schedule you want so long as it's in the child's best interests. It makes sense to create a schedule that most closely aligns with each parent's ability to spend time with the child. See below examples for common 50/50 custody schedules:


  • 7-7-7-7 (e.g., child switches: 7 days w/ Dad, 7 days w/ Mom, repeat)

  • 3-3-4-4 (e.g., child switches: 3 days w/ Mom, 3 days w/ Dad, 4 days w/ Mom, 4 days w/ Dad, repeat)  

  • 5-5-2-2 (e.g., child switches: 5 days w/ Mom, 5 days w/ Dad, 2 days w/ Mom, 2 days w/ Dad, repeat).


​In addition to choosing a regular parenting schedule, consider including parenting time that overrides your regular schedule for holidays and events like summer vacation, summer break, winter break, spring break, fall break, major holidays, minor holidays, special events, funerals, birthdays, quinceañeras, bar mitzvahs, and the list goes on. 








Navigating the complexities of parenting time in Colorado can be challenging, especially when emotions are running high. It is crucial to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney who specializes in child custody matters. A child custody lawyer can help protect your parental rights, advocate for the well-being and happiness of your children, and guide you through the legal process to achieve a fair and workable parenting time arrangement. Get a free case review! with child custody lawyers near me.

Every child custody case is unique. Our Colorado child custody attorney offers personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation, addressing your concerns, and providing clear explanations of your rights, options, and potential outcomes. with a child custody attorney near me. Contact our best child custody lawyer in Colorado.

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Top Related Child Custody Readings...

Long-Distance Child Custody: Maintaining Strong Bonds Across Miles

Long-distance child custody arrangements can present unique challenges for parents, but it's crucial to prioritize maintaining strong bonds with the child despite the distance. This article delves into strategies and approaches to foster meaningful connections, including consistent communication, visitation schedules, and utilizing technology to bridge the physical gap and ensure the well-being of the child.

The Importance of Creating a Comprehensive Parenting Plan: A Guide to Successful Parenting Time Arrangements

Creating a comprehensive parenting plan is crucial for successful parenting time arrangements. This guide emphasizes the importance of considering various aspects, such as scheduling, communication, decision-making, and dispute resolution, to promote stability and positive co-parenting. By providing practical tips and insights, it helps parents develop a well-crafted plan that ensures clarity, consistency, and the best interests of the child are prioritized throughout the co-parenting journey.

Family Dispute

The article provides insights into effective child custody mediation by emphasizing positive communication. It advises parents to refrain from negative remarks, ultimatums, and involving children in conflicts. Instead, they should prioritize honesty, flexibility, and respect for each other's roles to achieve a successful outcome and foster a healthy co-parenting relationship.

  • What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
    Legal custody refers to decision-making authority, while physical custody relates to where the child resides. In Colorado, "custody" is referred to as the "allocation of parental responsibilities" (APR). APR refers to (1) parenting time, and (2) decision-making responsibility.
  • How to change jurisdiction for child custody?
    To change jurisdiction for child custody, you typically need to file a petition in the current jurisdiction, providing valid reasons for the requested change, and seek approval from the court.
  • Can parenting time be modified or adjusted?
    Parenting time can be modified or adjusted if there is a significant change in circumstances or if it is determined that the modification is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider factors such as the child's needs and the parents' ability to co-parent effectively when making a decision.
  • Can you lose custody for not paying child support?
    Yes, you can potentially lose custody for not paying child support, as failure to fulfill financial responsibilities may be seen as neglecting the child's well-being and can be grounds for a change in custody arrangements.
  • Do I need a lawyer for child custody?
    While it is not mandatory to have a lawyer for child custody cases, consulting with a family law attorney is highly recommended to understand your rights, navigate the legal process effectively, and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
  • Why do I pay child support with 50/50 custody?
    Even with 50/50 custody, you may still be required to pay child support if there is a significant disparity in the incomes of the parents or other factors considered by the court to ensure the child's financial well-being.
  • How does relocation or moving to another state impact existing custody arrangements?
    Relocation can significantly impact custody arrangements, often requiring court approval or modification of the existing order.
  • Should co-parents spend time together?
    Co-parents should spend time together if they can maintain a respectful and cooperative relationship for the benefit of their children's well-being, but it's essential to prioritize the children's needs and avoid it if unresolved conflicts or emotional distress are involved.
  • Who pays attorney fees in child custody cases?
    In child custody cases, the party responsible for paying attorney fees is typically determined by the court and may vary depending on the specific circumstances and laws of the jurisdiction.
  • Can you lose custody for child endangerment?
    Yes, child endangerment can be a significant factor in child custody cases, and engaging in behavior that puts the child's safety at risk may lead to the loss of custody rights.
  • Can you get custody of a child that's not yours?
    Obtaining custody of a child who is not biologically yours may be possible through legal means, such as adoption or obtaining guardianship, depending on the specific circumstances and the laws in your jurisdiction.
  • How to fight false allegations in child custody?
    To fight false allegations in child custody, gather evidence, maintain clear and open communication with legal representation, and work with your attorney to present a strong defense in court.
  • Can I fight for custody from another state?
    Yes, you can fight for custody from another state, but it can be legally complex, and it's essential to understand the relevant laws and seek legal counsel.
  • How long does a custody hearing take?
    The duration of a custody hearing can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the number of witnesses and evidence presented, and the court's schedule, but it typically lasts anywhere from a few hours to several days.
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