It is a myth that moms have an advantage when fighting for the custody of their child. Family courts today uphold only one main standard in child custody cases, and that is the child’s best interests, regardless of whether that lies with the father, mother, or both. But while parents have an equal opportunity to pursue child custody, mothers in particular experience challenges that may hinder their legal rights as parents.
If you are a Colorado mom going through a divorce or a custody case, learn about your parental rights and the challenges you may have in preparing to establishing these rights.
Rights Of A Parent After Separation
As a mother, you have the same rights as your child’s father to pursue the following:
- Child custody. In Colorado, this is called “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities”. While being the biological mother does not automatically make you the custodial parent, you can show the court that you are best suited to raise the child. You have the right to pursue custody even if you haven’t always been present in your child’s life or if you have a criminal record. However, note that factors like those play heavily in the judge’s decision.
- Child support. A custodial parent is typically entitled to child support, especially if that parent has sole physical custody. The most common scenario, however, is that both parents get joint physical custody, and this means they would also have to split child support obligations.
You may still receive child support even if your income seems comfortable enough to raise your child on your own. The determination of child support payments depends on several factors, and while your income is indeed a major factor, it is not the only one.
If a child support order is already in place but your former spouse refuses to pay it, you can request the court to enforce the order.
- Even if you did not win the custody of your child, you are still entitled to visitation, known in Colorado law as parenting time. If you believe that your former spouse is denying you your parenting time or is interfering with your court-ordered visitation schedule, you can petition the court to have it enforced.
Again, these rights are available to parents of any gender. However, many mothers do not fully understand what they are entitled to, and some are misled by misconceptions. It is important to know what you can ask for during a divorce and in your effort to be a good parent to your child.
Challenges To A Mother’s Rights
Though the law intends to uphold your rights as a mother, your former spouse could still take advantage of certain elements in your case and skew the outcomes to his favor. Take a look at these well-known scenarios.
- An ex-spouse could argue that men and women have “equal rights” and are thus entitled to a 50-50 custody decision. This is a flawed argument, as genders and gender-based rights do not matter when awarding child custody or child support. Again, the court’s standard is where the child’s best interests lie. A father who’s only present on weekends or has put the child in danger should not expect a 50-50 decision.
- Often, there is a power imbalance between parents. This is especially pronounced if you are a stay-at-home mom or if your former spouse earns significantly more than you do. Aside from the clear difference in your financial capacities, this imbalance can also foster an emotional or psychological situation where you feel less deserving or less capable as a parent. Do not let this stop you from pursuing your parental rights.
- Communication between separated spouses is often troubled. Family disputes tend to be antagonistic and aggressive, so first, you’ll want to avoid communicating with your ex-spouse while you yourself are emotionally-charged. You may consider hiring a mediator if you believe that a professional third party can help smooth out the issues. If your ex is being completely unreasonable, or if there is a likelihood that he will emotionally manipulate you, you can opt to communicate through your attorney.
- You may have heard of “Father’s Rights lawyers”. Know that there are no special rights, laws, or advantages afforded to fathers when it comes to child custody or support. However, some Family Law attorneys do lean towards representing fathers, and these lawyers can be aggressive in pushing their arguments. As a mom, you must be prepared with your own attorney who can competently fight for you in a challenging family case.
If you have any concerns regarding your maternal rights in Colorado, please talk to us at Goldman Law. We can provide you with professional advice that is suited to your specific situation, and we can effectively represent you if you believe that your parental rights are threatened.