When you choose to have children with your spouse, you probably don't think about what will happen if you eventually end your marriage. Most couples conceive their children when they still foresee spending the rest of their life with their spouse.
Unfortunately, circumstances and people can change, leaving you worried about how divorce is going to affect your relationship with your children. The good news for people in Colorado considering divorce is that the state typically wants to protect the relationship between the children and both parents when they create the final parenting plan.
The Colorado family courts have moved away from terms like custody, which imply ownership. Instead, they discuss parental rights and responsibilities in a comprehensive parenting plan that outlines everything from vacation planning to any necessary child support.
All decisions in major family matters focus on the children
The guiding principle that the Colorado courts use to handle disputes regarding parenting time and authority is the best interest of the children involved. Most children benefit from having a broad network of social support, which means having a good relationship with both parents. It also means maintaining social ties and avoiding instability during divorce and afterward.
Letting the children stay in the family home, keeping them in the same school district and maintaining connections with their friends and neighbors can all minimize the negative consequences of divorce on a child's social and emotional health. The parenting plan will emphasize keeping things stable and healthy for the children above all else.
The courts want to see both parents work together with a focus on helping the kids after divorce, as opposed to parents who use their children as a weapon against their ex. In fact, the courts will likely frown on a parent who tries to cut the child off from their former spouse or engages in parental alienation tactics, such as speaking poorly about the other parent in front of the children.
There is plenty of room for negotiation in a parenting plan
With a little foresight and consideration, it may be possible for you and your ex to work together to create arrangements for co-parenting after your divorce. You could create and submit your own parenting plan to the courts as part of an uncontested divorce, provided that you agree on important issues and have everything reviewed by your own attorneys.
Otherwise, the Colorado family courts will decide how they want to split up your parental rights and responsibilities and will create a plan that outlines parenting time and other parental rights, as well as child support and additional parental responsibilities. Partnering with an experienced family law attorney can help you secure a positive outcome in your upcoming divorce and custody proceedings regardless of what approach you take.