Fathers have unique challenges in the divorce and family law arena in a society which all too often has memories of times past when fathers were thought of as hard working wage earners whose interest and role in the lives of their children were more limited than those of the stay at home housewife. Times have changed, but perceptions in the legal system can sometimes lag behind societal changes. Having had the opportunity to represent fathers in family law cases in Colorado courts, I appreciate the difficulties many men confront in a legal system that has not always appeared to be gender neutral. For this reason, consultation with an experienced Colorado family law attorney is always a good idea. Consulting with a lawyer as early as possible helps a father to prepare with the challenges many men face in child custody and parenting issues. All too often, I have consulted with men who have failed to obtain legal advice and as a result, act in a way that can compromise their ability to obtain parenting rights with their children.
Although Colorado family law has been amended to be allegedly gender-blind, fathers should take care not to take anything for granted and must be proactive to establish and advocate early for their parenting time and decision making responsibility. It was only a few years ago that Colorado abandoned the Tender Years doctrine which was a belief that a child of a young age was better off in the custody of the mother. Over time, courts began moving away from the presumption in favor of the other to an unbiased best interests standard. While current Colorado law provides that courts shall not presume that one parent would be a better custodian for a child merely because of his or her sex, some courts may still look at the age of a child and be included to allocate parental responsibility for a young child to the mother
Because of the tensions involved in these parenting roles, fathers who anticipate a "custody" fight, are best served to consult with a family law attorney at the first hint of domestic strife, if only to get good information and to work on a proactive strategy with a legal representative that can help them look forward and focus on what it most important. Depending on what is occurring in the household and the relationship, men need to be prepared with tools to assist them in how to respond to disagreements or arguments that could lead to an allegation against them that could trigger a Temporary Restraining or Protection Order. If the police are called, men are often seen as the aggressor and these events can trigger a possible motion for a criminal or civil complaint that can create unfair prejudice to the father.
Obtaining good legal counsel before things fall apart can help fathers to gain useful tools and strategies before major problems erupt.