Child Custody and Visitation
Parents want what's best for their children -- but they can't always agree on what that is. Anger, financial considerations or genuine differences of opinion keep some parents from reaching an agreement. Others may be able to reach a compromise, but want to make sure their arrangements will hold up in court. As children grow and circumstances change, some parents may find that they need help modifying their original custody or visitation orders to reflect their current situation.
The law office of Jennifer B. James, P.C., can help. I am a Colorado Springs family-law attorney who represents mothers and fathers in all aspects of child custody and other divorce-related matters. I'm also a former Head Start teacher and caregiver who has worked with kids from infancy to six years, so I understand and respect young children's needs -- and the special struggles that new parents face. I'm available to help divorcing parents set up a workable custody or visitation plan; review plans made independently; or advocate for parents before a judge. I can also help parents who need to modify a custody order after the fact or hold the other parent responsible for denying custody or visitation.
Determining Custody in Colorado
As with other aspects of divorce and separation, Colorado law encourages parents to work out an agreement on their own. When possible, separating parents should sit down with their attorneys to draw up a parenting plan that outlines how they'd like to share physical custody and financial responsibility for their children. If the court agrees that this plan is fair to both parents, it's likely to approve it. Judges also may order parents into a settlement conference, mediation or arbitration.
If parents truly can't agree or there are special circumstances like domestic abuse, a judge may make the decisions for you. Colorado courts are legally obligated to make custody and visitation decisions according to the best interests of the children. The law specifies multiple factors that help determine what those best interests are, including past parenting behavior; ability to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent; and any history of family violence. If necessary, the court may even appoint an independent investigator to protect your child's best interests.
Post-Judgment Orders and Modifications
As your children grow up and life goes on, you might find that your parenting plan doesn't work anymore. You may change jobs, move or get requests from your children themselves to change how they split their time. If you're in this situation, I can help you formally change your custody or visitation order to reflect the changes in your lives. If your spouse isn't following the rules you agreed to, I can also petition a court to enforce your agreement or hold him or her in contempt of court.
Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyer
Custody and visitation are an important part of any divorce with kids -- but they don't have to be a battle. If you need help working out a legal, sound parenting plan or changing an agreement, contact Jennifer B. James, P.C.. You can reach me at (719) 473-1813 or drop by my downtown Colorado Springs offices.