Colorado divorce: Forming a working co-parenting relationship
Going through a divorce in El Paso County is never an easy process and if there are children from the marriage, you will have even more difficult decisions to make and issues to resolve with your ex-spouse relating to where the children will live and who will make important decisions regarding their education and welfare. While some couples may find themselves embroiled in a bitter child custody battle, the state of Colorado has passed laws in recent years that encourage parents to work together.
According to the Denver Bar Association, parents are now granted what is called parenting time and parenting responsibility instead of custody. The idea is to give each parent the role as a caregiver and to enable them to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with their children after divorce. If parents are unable to come to a separate agreement, it falls upon a judge to determine the ability of the parents to communicate with each other, their focus on their children, and whether the spouses live in close proximity of each other.
If you and your ex-spouse are willing to set aside personal feelings and differences for the sake of your children, then a co-parenting relationship can work. There are some cases where co-parenting may put children at risk of being harmed and these cases include spousal abuse, child abuse, addictions to harmful substances and criminal behavior.
While the romantic relationship between you and your spouse is no more, a parenting plan gives you the ability to form a different kind of relationship. Think of it as a business partnership with your children at the center.
When putting together a parenting plan, it should be with the intent to meet the needs of your children and you and your ex. Components of an effective parenting plan include:
- A schedule of holidays, vacations, family events for each parent.
- Day to day needs – medicines, house rules, transportation.
- Special needs – allergies, medical conditions.
- Rules and discipline.
- Contact with extended family.
- Rules on what you and your ex should not say around your children.
If you have multiple children in different age groups, then it would be a good idea to establish a separate parenting plan for each child that works specifically for them. For example, a teenager will need to have more social time with friends and should have some say in how much time they spend with you or your ex. A younger child may require more activities like ballet or soccer to keep them active and build social and motor skills.
For questions on parenting plans or parental responsibility you should meet with an experienced family law attorney who can provide you with legal guidance.