In last week’s post I wrote the following about what my views are on divorce in Colorado:
“If you have kids then parenting time is going to be split between mom and dad, and this is going to be hard to adjust to. If the parties live close together, and both are good parents then each has a right to parent their kids and see them on a regular basis. Unless there is an unusual circumstance (drug or alcohol abuse, child abuse, etc.) trying to prevent one parent from having parenting time is a waste of time and money.”
This week I want to build on what I said and what I meant. First let me make the following clear: if one spouse is abusive or suffering from substance abuse then a court will do what it must to protect the children of the marriage. I do this type of work and it is not pretty, and I will say that cases like this are the exception and not the rule. Most parents want to do what is right by their kids, and both usually want to be involved in the lives of their children. If you are in an abusive relationship or in a situation in which one parent is struggling with emotional and/or substance abuse issues don’t go it alone. You will need an attorney, and more likely than not you will need a parenting professional. A parenting professional might have a different title, but their job is to be the voice for children whose parents are divorcing and they make a recommendation to the court as to what is in the best interests of the children.
“Best interests” are nothing more than a set of guidelines that outline what is best for the kids. In Colorado there is no presumption that women are better parents than men and there is no “tender years” doctrine. A “tender years” philosophy is a presumption that the early years of child development are best spent with mom; Colorado has specifically rejected this approach, and the presumption is actually that both parents should parent. The Colorado legislature has also mandated that parents support their children. I will be candid, if you are a mom or dad not paying what you owe then shame on you. You are only hurting your children.
Good parenting plans reflect what is best for the kids. If the parents are living 40 miles apart with young children in school then a parenting plan that has the kids riding 40 miles to school is likely not a good idea. Generally, a court will accept what works for a particular family. A good attorney can help you be inventive to do what is best for your situation. Remember, the kids are not a weapon and they are not a club with which to beat the other parent. I counsel people to remember that their love for their children should trump the anger they feel toward one another. If this means getting counseling or simply making do with a little less time, then do it; your children will be better off for it. Too often I see kids being prepared for a relationship just like their divorcing parents have.
I know I love my children, and I have yet to see a parent who did not love their own children, but sometimes folks get caught up in the moment and they forget. Don’t let this happen to you. If I can help you though parenting issues give me a call; if I cannot help you I will send you to someone who can. It really is about the kids.