If you are getting a divorce or splitting from your child’s parent, it will likely be a complicated process. There are some issues you may have to deal with pertaining to child custody.
Child custody is often a contentious issue. It often happens both parents want full custody or one parent wants to terminate the parental rights of the other for some reason.
The good news is both parents have parental rights. Colorado law provides parenting time and decision-making authority must be allocated between the parents in the best interests of the child, which is referred to as the allocation of parental responsibilities. A parent can file for custody whether or not they are married to the child’s other parent. Decisions must be made on how much parenting time each parent will have with their child if the parents do not live together and how major decisions regarding the child are made. The parents can agree on custody or the court can decide based on the best interests of the child.
When the parents split, there may be some disagreements about parenting time and related issues. Here are some common issues.
Even if a man knows for sure he is a child’s father, paternity is not assumed if the parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth. The mother is given sole custody. Paternity is not automatic for an unmarried man, so he will need to actively establish paternity. The easiest way to do this is to file a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. Both parents will have to sign it.
You can also establish paternity through an administrative order. However, this is usually only done if one parent is applying for child support. Another option is to do it through a judicial order. This involves filing a paternity suit. The mother and possible father(s) will submit information to the judge, who will make a determination on paternity.
Often, parents want to have custody of a child, but they do not always want to pay child support. Child support is based on the incomes of both parents. The non-custodial parent is typically the one who pays a fixed amount each month. However, it is not uncommon for a parent to get behind on payments. When this happens, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt and ask the court to step in to ensure payments are made. The court can then garnish wages from the parent.
Changes or modifications can happen after an order has already been finalized. Changes to custody may come about if a parent decides to move. Relocation can be a tricky issue for parents. When a parent moves far away from the other, it can disrupt custody schedules. However, moving may be necessary for a job offer or to be closer to family.
If there is no formal custody agreement in place, then there is technically nothing stopping a parent from leaving Colorado with their child. However, it is better to have permission from the child’s other parent or a court order. That’s because if you move out of state without permission, the state will maintain jurisdiction over your child for the next six months. Your parental rights could be affected.
If there is a custody agreement in place, though, the law states a parent who intends to relocate with the child to a new home a much longer distance away, the parent will need either consent from the other parent or permission from the court.
A parent seeking to relocate with the children must provide the other parent with the following as soon as possible:
- Written notice of the intent
- The location where the party intends to reside
- The reason for the relocation
- A proposed revised parenting plan
Being a parent is not easy. Parenthood comes with a lot of issues, especially if the parents are not married. It can be even more challenging for an unmarried father. Get help protecting your parental rights from Tanis McGonegal. Our Colorado family law attorneys will help resolve your issues.