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-

parenting relationship.

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.

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