Mitch Tacy Family Law

Fort Collins Child Custody/Legal Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Mitch Tacy Child Custody Attorney

Fort Collins Child Custody Lawyer

Parenting Time and Decision Making Responsibility

In Colorado law, Child Custody is a term that has been eliminated from the language of the statutes.  Physical Custody has been replaced by “Parenting Time,” and Legal Custody has been replaced by “Decision Making Responsibility”.  Determining Parenting Time is one of the most difficult issues in the divorce process.  Often emotions are running high, and negative feelings can make it very difficult for parents to come to a mutual agreement. It is in your best interest to hire an attorney with experience in the real world of Child Custody and Parenting Time. It is important to know what the orders will mean to you and what are the financial and quality of life costs if and when they need modification. You can avoid costly problems in the future with a well thought out Parenting Plan agreement today.  Mitch Tacy Family Attorney & Mediator has the experience and expertise to help you through this process when you can agree and when you can not agree.

Learn more: What is Child Support and What is it for?

What if we agree on Visitation/Parenting time?

It’s important in any child custody case to put the child’s needs and best interests before anything else.   If parents can reach a parenting agreement together, this is the best way to handle a difficult situation because you will avoid the emotional and financial cost of arguing your case in court. If this applies to you, congratulations. Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator will draft and submit your mutually agreed upon Parenting Plan with the District Court. Your agreement will be enforceable in the case that one or both of you veer from your mutually agreed terms and do not comply with them.

How much Parenting Time will I get?

If you can not mutually agree on how you will share your Parenting Time, the court will decide upon an arrangement based on what they believe is best for the child. Each case is decided strictly upon its own facts.

There are a number of factors a Judge will take into consideration when determining a Parenting Plan:
  • age of the child;
  • health and special needs of the child;
  • capability of each parent to provide for the care of the child;
  • history of the care provided by each parent for the child;
  • health and physical condition of each parent including the mental health and disabilities resulting from alcohol, drug abuse and other substances;
  • effect of separating siblings;
  • preference of the child, depending on the child’s age;
  • religious considerations;
  • any instances of abuse or domestic violence by either parent with respect to the child;
  • interference with visitation of the child;
  • relationship of the other parent with the child;
  • relative nurturing care ability of each parent;
  • maintaining stability in the child’s life; and
  • the so-called “wild card”  factor, and any other factor that may have a bearing upon the best interest of the child.

What are the Types of Parental Responsibilities determined by the Courts?

There are two primary issues in a parental responsibilities plan (a/k/a “Parenting Plan”):  Parenting Time and Decision Making Responsibilities.

Parenting Time addresses when, where and with whom the child(ren) will spend time.  The beauty of “parenting time” versus physical custody is that there are no formal guidelines or restrictions regarding the allocation of Parenting Time.  Parents can devise a plan which addresses each hour, of each day, of each week, of each month, of each year.  Alternatively, parents have the ability to allocate time by agreement or by percentage of time (example: 50/50).  Colorado’s transition from Custody to Parenting Time eliminated a lot of angst caused between parents and child, as to which parent would be “primary,” and how much visitation the other parent would receive.   Decision Making Responsibility addresses the authority to make legal and other important decisions on behalf of the child, such as those pertaining to healthcare, education, religion, and general well-being.  Although it is a starting point only, there is a general tendency by the Courts to defer to (or prefer) “joint” decision making, where decision making is shared between the parents.  However, there are a number of reasons and circumstances that lead to sole decision making authority, where decision making for major life issues is granted exclusively to one parent and not the other.

A custody battle is never easy for anyone involved. Not only is it stressful for the parents, but it can be traumatic for the child. Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator understands the delicate nature of Colorado custody cases and we address them in a caring and professional manner. We also recognize that taking an aggressive approach is necessary for protecting the rights and best interests of our clients. We are fully committed to negotiating for an arrangement that meets the needs of our clients and their children.

Focus on the Best Interest of Your Child or Children

Creating a custody order that works for everyone, starts and ends with focusing on the best interests of your children. Providing a supportive and loving environment means that parents need to focus on their children’s interests (instead of their own) and foster their children’s intrinsic need to have a strong relationship with both mother and father (as opposed to forcing a split in the parent-child relationship based upon resentments, failure, and strife within the parent-to-parent relationship). Consulting a family therapist is often helpful at this time. It may be necessary to learn new skills to become a better co-parent. We are more than happy to recommend a Weld County or Larimer County child and family therapist to help you through this process.

Successful custody plans/ Parenting Time Agreements require that couples (who may be “dysfunctional” or failures as partners) are willing to transition into a cooperative co-parenting relationship, which supports their child(ren)s emotional needs.  In any custody case, children – not individual moms or dads – are the “winners” and “losers.”

How is Parenting Time/Visitation Determined?

Visitation/Parenting Time is determined by the Courts during a child custody hearing or through mutual agreement of the parents. When parents can agree upon a Parenting Time schedule outside of Court, the Judge almost always respects and upholds the arrangement. A Parenting Time/visitation agreement outlines the circumstances in which the non-custodial parent will be with the child. This can include which days the non-custodial parent will see the child, where they will spend time, how long each visit will last, and if another person needs to be present during the visit. If you can not come to a mutually agreed upon Parenting Plan privately or through mediation you will be relying on the Courts to determine your Parenting Time and Decision Making responsibilities.

When Problems Arise

Even though the courts may approve a specific Parenting Time schedule, the parents have the ability to alter or veer from the guidelines set forth by the court, as long as the non-custodial parent’s rights are not violated. Unfortunately, there are many situations when the custodial parent may disregard the Parenting Time schedule determined by courts. When this occurs, it’s important for the non-custodial parent to protect their parental rights by hiring an experienced and effective attorney.

Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator understands that your number one priority is protecting your relationship with your children, and that’s why we make it our number one priority to protect your rights as a parent. In addition, we will keep your legal matters in strictest confidence, and provide you with professional advice and guidance throughout every step of the legal process.

Mitch Tacy Family Law Attorney & Mediator
155 E. Boardwalk Drive, Suite 464, Fort Collins, CO 80525
1635 Foxtrail Drive, Suite 356, Loveland, CO 80538

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