Don't agree on child custody? There are options before court

When it comes to making big, life-altering choices, most people in Colorado would likely agree that they prefer to be involved in the process. But when it comes to divorce, there are many instances of couples asking a judge to make significant decisions on their behalf. While this can be an appropriate course of action for some couples, others can likely settle on more preferable terms for child custody and/or a divorce settlement on their own terms.

When a contested divorce lands in the court room, judges make the most informed decision that they can based on the information at their disposal. However, one judge noted that most couples he sees are happier with agreements that they hash out themselves rather than ones that he imposes. For that reason, Early Neutral Evaluation can be a good place to start the divorce process. 

ENE is a collaborative process involving a mediator, both parties and their respective legal counsel. Often, resolutions can be found for issues that were highly contested beforehand, although these will still ultimately require the approval of a judge. Even if no common ground can be found for certain issues, this process can still help parties work out as many issues as possible before handing the decision making over to a judge.

Of course, this is not to say that couples who have trouble agreeing on child custody or other factors are worse off than those who do settle. Depending on the divorce and the couple, an agreeable resolution may simply not be possible without the valuable input of an experienced judge. However, neither of these options should be taken lightly, and Colorado couples filing for divorce may be well advised to carefully review all issues and important related information -- such as income and education -- alongside their counsel before moving forward.

Source:, "Judge's view: Divorces", Dale Harris, March 13, 2015

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