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Child Custody & Visitation FAQs

At the Law Offices of Shawn H. Smith, we understand that clients are concerned about various aspects of their cases. The majority of our clients’ questions are either answered during a consultation or through the different stages of the legal process. While every case is unique, there are some common questions that weigh heavily on parents’ minds.

Is there a difference between legal and physical custody?

With most states changing to a parenting time or parenting plan program, the phrases legal and physical custody are becoming less and less common. In Colorado, custody is referred to as “parental responsibility.” Parental responsibility has two parts: decision-making, which is “joint” or “sole,” and “parenting time,” which is the time for which each parent has the child(ren). Parenting time used to be called “physical custody” if the child lived with you most of the time and “visitation” was exercised by the other parent. Decision-making deals specifically with the major life decisions that are made in the child’s life. Decisions related to education, religion or medical care are typically addressed by both parents or joint decision-making.

Can parenting time arrangements and decision-making authority be modified?

Yes. The majority of the factors in a divorce decree can be modified as long as there is a valid reason and the court finds that it is in the best interests of the child or both parents agree to the change. When a substantial change impacts your finances – the loss of a job, reduction in hours, medical emergency, etc. – it is probably necessary to re-examine your child support order. Additionally, it is wise to work with skilled attorneys for your modification – verbal agreements are not enforceable.

What is parental alienation?

Children of divorce are sensitive to even the most subtle cues – verbal or nonverbal. Even if parents attempt to hide their true feelings about their ex-spouses, children can be affected. It can lead to serious legal and psychological problems, however, when parents convey their disdain to their children. When one parent works to sway a child’s feelings about the other parent, it can be said that parental alienation has occurred. If you believe that your ex-spouse is attempting to plant negative thoughts or emotions in your children’s minds, you should contact our lawyers.

Can a father get primary care (custody) of his children?

In short, yes. In recent years, Colorado courts have made significant changes in legislation regarding fathers’ rights. Custody is determined by many factors, including the child’s relationship with the parent and the presence of a stable home environment. Gender might have been a serious influence in the past, but not anymore.

I’m not receiving the child support that was ordered. Can I withhold parenting time (visitation)?

It would be a serious mistake to attempt to take matters into your own hands. If your ex-spouse is not paying the court-ordered support, there is a legal process in place for enforcement. It is crucial that you discuss your situation with skilled Fort Collins attorneys who can explain your legal options.

Contact The Law Offices of Shawn H. Smith

If you have further questions regarding child custody and visitation, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Shawn H. Smith. We can be reached by phone at 970-387-6858 or by completing our convenient online contact form.