Custody in Colorado, whether it is a part of a divorce, called a Dissolution of Marriage, or part of an out-of-wedlock relationship, called an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR), is sometimes the biggest battle of them all. Children are the life-blood of who we are. They make us laugh, cry, smile, tear up, scream, shout (for joy, or for anger), scold, play, cuddle, love, love, love… the point is, 99% (ninety-nine percent) of most divorces or APR’s will involve some type of “kid-issue” that revolves around what is in the “best interest of the child.” CRS §14-10-124.
The laws in Colorado regarding custody are relatively simple and yet complex: there are 11 (eleven) factors that make up custody decisions for the Court to use in its decision-making process, including:
- What’s the mental health of each parent—code-word and catch-all phrase for: Does the parent abuse drugs/alcohol?
Other factors are:
- Has the parent been convicted of child abuse?
- Has the parent been convicted of domestic violence?
- Has Social Services been called? And why?
- Can the parent put aside their own needs in order to take care of their child?
- Can the parties get along for the sake of their child?, etc.
Unfortunately, a custody battle is not uncommon in Colorado. In fact, besides property division (in a divorce), custody is the most contested area in family law. One way to smooth out the wrinkles, though, is by using what is called a Child and Family Investigator (CFI). A CFI is an unbiased third-party participant who is skilled at ferreting out what is best for the child. A CFI will interview the parties, the child (if old enough), teachers, relatives, siblings, friends, and therapists (if being treated) to ascertain the best interest of the child. In other words, the CFI’s job is to figure out which parent is best suited for being the custodial parent, and thus the primary caregiver who will watch over the child on a day-to-day basis.
How much does a CFI cost? In our expertise, a well-trained CFI requires at least a $2,000 (two-thousand dollars) retainer. But it is money well spent. The reason is that the CFI is the Court’s “eyes and ears.” Their report will persuade the Court to rule in the potential custodial parent’s favor. Without such a report, typically, the Court must rely on “he said, she said” testimony, which does no one any good, especially, the child.
Free legal tip: Facebook is a double-edged sword; yes, it can alert one’s friends to one’s latest doings, but it can also be used in Court to show how drunk the parent was (lamp shade over head with beer in hand)! So be careful when it comes to child custody matters because the Court takes into account the whole gamut of one’s life. Being a responsible parent is a 24/7 job. If a parent loses control one night, the Court will think, “Who’s watching the kids? Should I award custody to the parent with a lamp shade over their head or the parent helping “Johnny” with his ABC’s.”
Please call Law Office of John Waters at (303) 629-6900 to schedule your free initial consultation. Thank you.