First off, you should expect that the judge is going to expect that you’re going to be prepared to present your case. You need to think about logistics. In other words, if you are arguing that you should have the children most of the time, the judge is going to want to know whether or not you realistically can get them to where they need to be, when they need to be there. Can you get them to school on time? Can you pick them up from school on time? Does your work schedule support what you’re asking the court to do?
The answer is “Yes,” and it depends upon a number of different factors. If it’s a situation where you would like to adopt your stepchild, then you would need to show that the biological parent of the child consents to you adopting the child or that there has been abandonment or failure to support the child for a period of at least one year. If that’s the case, then you can file a petition for a stepparent adoption.
There is a specific procedure that you have to go through. I can help you with that process. Essentially you have to go and get fingerprinted. You have to do a background check. You have to do what’s known as a trails check, which is to make sure you haven’t had any complaints lodged against you for child-related reasons. Then you have to file a petition for stepparent adoption with the court in the county where you reside.
A child and family investigator is an expert witness that has been approved by the Colorado Supreme Court for use in cases where allocation of parental responsibilities is an issue. That means parenting time and decision making. A child and family investigator at the present time is paid a statutory cap of $2,750. Sometimes they can exceed that cap, but basically, that is the amount that they are paid. The purpose of a child and family investigator is to investigate what is going to be in the best interests of the children. A child and family investigator will talk to you, talk to your ex, talk to your collateral contacts, talk to any therapists and teachers who’ve been involved with the children, and go do a home visit with you and the other party.
In order to create an effective parenting plan, you have to be realistic about your individual situation. Who has been primarily involved in caring for the children while you and your partner were together? How are you going to handle the logistics of the children after you and your partner separate? By that, I mean how are you going to get them to school? How are you going to pick them up from school? How is that going to look on a summer day? How is that going to look here in Colorado when we have a snowy day and roads are bad? How close are you each going to live to the children’s school? How practical is that going to be for you to be involved in that? What are your work hours like? Can you realistically get the children up, get them dressed and fed, get them to school, and make it to work on time? Can you realistically get to school or daycare after you complete work in time to pick them up?
First, you have to consider the mechanism that the child custody case is framed. It is in the context of a petition for disillusion of marriage, where you and your
spouse were married, or is it in the context of an allocation for parental responsibilities? That’s the mechanism where you and your partner were never married but you have a child together. That’s the first step is what is the procedure that you’re going to approach. After that, you have to look at the venue that you need to file your case, so you look at where everybody resides, the county. You want to file your child custody case in the county preferably where everybody resides.