Child Custody

Understanding Child Custody Laws

When relationships end, one of the most crucial concerns is the well-being of any children involved. Child custody laws are designed to address the rights and responsibilities of parents towards their children post-separation. In this article, we'll explore the critical elements of child custody laws to provide a comprehensive understanding for those navigating this challenging aspect of family law.

Types of Custody

Legal Custody

  • This refers to a parent's right to make important decisions concerning the child's life, including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Legal custody can be granted to one parent (sole legal custody) or shared by both parents (joint legal custody).

Physical Custody

  • Physical custody pertains to where the child will live. Sole physical custody means that the child resides with one parent responsible for everyday care, while the non-custodial parent typically has visitation rights. On the other hand, joint physical custody involves a living arrangement where the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents.

Determining Custody

Most custody laws revolve around one central principle: the child's best interests. This standard compels courts to prioritize the child's happiness, security, stability, and development when deciding custody. Some factors considered include:

  • The child's age, sex, and mental and physical health
  • The psychological and physical health of parents
  • Lifestyle and other social factors
  • Love and emotional ties between the child and each parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child's material needs, emotional support, and education
  • Established living patterns for the child concerning school, home, community, and religious institutions
  • Preferences of the child, if considered old enough
  • Availability of extended family
  • Interaction and interrelationship with other household members
  • Any evidence of parental drug, alcohol, or sex abuse
  • Parental use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse
  • Evidence of state laws permitting or forbidding joint custody

The Custody Process

The process typically begins with one or both parents filing a petition for custody in family court. If parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement privately, they may need to participate in mediation or a custody evaluation. A judge will make a final decision if no agreement can be reached.

Modification of Custody

A change in custody can be petitioned if significant changes in circumstances affect the child's best interests. Some examples include:

  • Relocation of the custodial parent
  • A substantial change in a parent's lifestyle that could harm the child
  • Evidence that the current custody arrangement is not working to the benefit of the child


Non-custodial parents are typically entitled to reasonable visitation rights unless it is demonstrated that this would harm the child’s wellbeing. In some scenarios, supervised visitation may be required where concerns exist about the safety of the child.

Rights of the Child in Custody Cases

Increasingly, courts take into account the rights and voices of children within custody battles, allowing them to express their preferences, especially when they are of a certain age and maturity.

Legal Advice

Considering the complexity and emotional challenges inherent in child custody cases, seeking the advice of a family law attorney can be instrumental in protecting your rights as a parent and ensuring the well-being of your child.

Centennial Child Custody Lawyer

As you consider the path forward in your child custody case, remember that you don't have to face it alone. The Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, located in Centennial, CO, specializes in family law and is dedicated to helping you understand your rights and fight for the best outcome for your family. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you in securing a custody arrangement that serves your child's best interests and supports your role as a parent. For expert legal advice and representation in Centennial, CO, reach out to us at (303) 647-4245, and take the first step towards a brighter future for your family.