Colorado law provides for three different types of child custody: joint, shared and sole or full. Joint custody is the preferred plan and is what the court will order unless there is a significant reason to impose another type of arrangement. Seeking sole or full custody of a minor child requires a demonstration that such a reason exists to deny the other parent any custodial rights.
Obtain a home study of your residence if the child isn't living with you. The study must be done by a person certified by the state of Colorado. He or she will evaluate the living environment and whether it is suitable for the child.
Prepare and file a motion with the court requesting that you be granted sole or full custody of your child. If the child doesn't live with you, attach a copy of the home study.
Include in the motion the specific reasons why sole or full custody is appropriate in your case. Under Colorado law, these reasons can include the other parent being unable to maintain a lifestyle conducive to healthy and appropriate parenting; the minor child facing the prospect of abuse or neglect; the other parent lacking the capacity to make reasonable and responsible decisions for the child; or the other parent being otherwise unavailable.
Request an order of the court directing a home study of the other parent's residence, regardless of whether the child lives there.
Gather additional evidence to support your request for sole or full custody. This can include school records, police records, photographs and witness affidavits.
Schedule a court hearing to present your evidence. The other parent will have the opportunity to respond, and the judge will make a decision.
Because sole or full child custody is the exception and not the rule, consider engaging a qualified Colorado family law attorney to represent you in your case. This will enhance your odds of success. Once the court establishes a custody order, it is very difficult to change or overturn. Under Colorado law a custody order can be altered only upon a material change of circumstances. The burden of proof associated with this standard is difficult to meet in most cases.
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