Divorce is challenging. When children are involved, the need to co-parent during custody litigation
and afterward often adds an extra layer of emotional and legal stress. Representation by an
experienced family law attorney can be invaluable when dealing with co-parenting disputes with
your ex-spouse or former partner. This overview discusses co-parenting after divorce offering
practical tips for effective communication and conflict resolution.
The Landscape of Child Custody in Colorado Springs
Legal Custody, or “Decision-Making” in Domestic Court
What is referred to as “legal custody” in juvenile cases under Title 19 of the Colorado Revised
Statutes is called decision-making responsibility in Title 14 divorce and parental responsibilities
cases. It can be thought of as a parent’s authority to make or have a say in the major decisions in
their children’s lives for different categories of decisions like education, healthcare, and general well-
being. Not all decisions in these categories are “major decisions”. For instance, choosing a new
doctor for a child is a major decision. Scheduling a routine checkup for a child with their existing
doctor is not a major decision. Boal Law Firm guide parents through the legal framework of legal
custody, emphasizing the importance of collaborative decision-making in the child’s best interests.
Physical Custody, or “Parenting Time” in Domestic Court
Physical custody generally means which parent the child resides with. Domestic courts disfavor the
use of the term “custody” and refer to this topic as parenting time. Parents can share equal
parenting time, or there can be a primary residential parent who has most of the overnights with the
children throughout the year while the other parent has scheduled overnights or daytime visitation.
Boal Law Firm assists parents in preparing parenting plans that account for the many important
factors and practical considerations of life, many of which parents do not even think about when
trying to prepare these on their own.
The Best Interests of the Child
In Colorado, decisions regarding children are a factor-based determination commonly referred to as
“the best interests of the child” standard – § 14-10-124, C.R.S. Decisions about parental
responsibilities and parenting time are supposed to be made with the children at the forefront of
consideration, prioritizing a child’s “physical, mental, and emotional condition”. New legislation
passed last year emphasizes that “a child’s safety is the first priority of the court…”. Some of the
important factors that are considered in making these decisions are as follows:
1. The interactions between children and third parties affecting their best interests including siblings.
Colorado courts consider the age and development of the child when determining custody.
Recognizing that the needs of an infant differ significantly from those of a teenager, custody orders
are often made taking into consideration the child's developmental milestones and ensure a
nurturing environment. Sibling relationships are valued in custody determinations. Courts usually
strive to preserve the bonds between siblings, as judge recognize that sibling relationships and
connections are often important to the child's overall well-being.
2. The physical and mental condition of the parties and child.
The Colorado General Assembly recognizes that the emotional and physical well-being of children is
paramount. Safety issues can arise from physical and mental health conditions of the parents, or the
children, or both. Following Colorado standards, Boal Law Firm advocates for parenting orders that
prioritize the child's mental and physical health and emotional wellbeing, creating an environment
that fosters emotional stability and a sense of security.
3. History of Domestic Violence or Substance Abuse
Courts, to take domestic violence (“DV”) or child abuse in consideration, must find that DV or child
abuse have occurred “by a preponderance of the evidence” – that is, the weight of the evidence
shows that it is more likely to have occurred than not.
This can be much more difficult to prove then you might think. Most domestic violence and child
abuse doesn’t lead to a criminal conviction or even an arrest for the offender. Most DV and child
abuse occurs behind closed doors out of sight of witnesses. The rules of evidence prevent parents
from testifying about what their children told them – this is called “hearsay”. A “he said/she said”
situation, where one parent is claiming abuse and the other parent is denying it, usually isn’t enough
for the court to find that child abuse or domestic violence has occurred. Boal Law Firm has years of
experience navigating this difficult standard, and a track record of finding ways to get competent
evidence in front of judges so they can make the correct finding.
4. The past pattern of involvement of the parents with the children / parent’s ability to encourage the sharing of love and affection between the children and their other parent.
The ability of parents to cooperate and communicate effectively is often a key consideration.
Parents who demonstrate a willingness to work together in the best interests of their children tend
to have more favorable outcomes in family court than parents who do not. Constructive
communication and a cooperative co-parenting relationship contribute positively to custody
determinations. More importantly, they have a positive impact on your children’s development as
they grow up and after they are adults themselves. Keep in mind that while you can divorce your
spouse, you cannot divorce your co-parent. Your children are half of each of their parents.
Badmouthing your children’s other parent to them in most cases causes your children to feel badly
themselves, and it is a good way to quickly find yourself on a judge’s bad side if they find out about
Practical Tips for Effective Co-Parenting
1. Open and Honest Communication
Effective co-parenting begins with open and honest communication. Parents should establish a
communication protocol that contemplates regular updates about children’s wellbeing, school
activities, and medical appointments.
2. Utilizing Technology
In the digital age, technology can be a valuable ally in co-parenting. Parents who leverage
communication apps, shared calendars, and online platforms to streamline information sharing and
coordination often find co-parenting easier than those who don’t, and using these technologies is a
good way to avoid conflicts arising out of miscommunication.
3. Consistency in Routines
Consistency is key for children, especially for those dealing with the fallout of their parents’ divorce
or separation. Creating consistent routines for children, including bedtime, meals, and school-related
activities helps provide stability and reassurance.
4. Resolving Conflicts Amicably
Disagreements are unfortunately likely to occur, but how these disputes they are managed is crucial
to co-parenting success and the happiness of all those involved. Parents should in most cases first try
to resolve disputes amicably, whether informally or through mediation. The focus is on eliminating
or at least minimizing the impact of disagreements on the child and maintaining a healthy co-
5. Putting the Child First
You need to love your children more than you hate your co-parent. Boal Law Firm encourages
parents to consistently prioritize their children’s needs above their personal differences with the
other parent. Parents in most cases should endeavor to attend school events together, cooperate
and be cordial during transitions, and foster a positive relationship between the child and both
Legal Support for Co-Parenting Success
Modification of Custody Orders
At Boal Law Firm, we regularly represent parents seeking to modify parenting orders. Changes in
work schedules, living arrangements, relocations, or their children’s evolving needs and wants may
warrant a modification. Having legal representation when trying to modify parenting orders over
the other parent’s objection maximizes your chances of success in court.
Enforcement of Custody Orders
In cases where one parent does not comply with parenting orders, Boal Law Firm represents parents
pursuing enforcement actions against the other parent. Violations of parenting orders most often
involves the denial of court-ordered parenting time by one parent, but other violations can be
litigated as well like refusal to follow communication protocols, non-compliance with exchange
procedures, or disparaging the other parent to the child. Being able to prove these violations within
the framework of the rules of evidence is a big part of the challenge. Parents benefit greatly in court
from being represented by an attorney who knows what it will take for the parent to meet their
burden of proof.
Co-parenting after divorce is often challenging. Having the right attorney when disputes arise can be
crucial to saving parents time, frustration, and money spent pursuing ill-advised courses of action to
deal with the problem. Boal Law Firm is committed to providing top-tier, solutions-oriented
representation to its clients in Colorado Springs and up and down the Front Range.