How Child Custody is Determined in Colorado

As with many states, the best interests of the child remain paramount when determining child custody arrangements in Colorado. The courts in the Centennial State place a particular emphasis on maintaining the child’s emotional, mental, and physical welfare above all else. Here’s a closer look at how child custody is determined in Colorado.

The Best Interests of the Child

In deciding child custody cases, Colorado courts abide by the “best interests of the child” standard as detailed in Colorado Revised Statutes section 14-10-124. This standard takes into account several factors to ensure the child’s safety, happiness, mental health, and emotional development.

Key Considerations

  • Wishes of the Parents: The courts initially consider the desires of each parent regarding custody and decision-making responsibilities. Both parents are encouraged to submit a parenting plan outlining these wishes.
  • Child’s Preferences: If the child is mature enough to articulate an independent preference (usually around age 12 or older), the court may consider this in its decision. However, the child’s preference isn’t the determining factor.
  • Child’s Relationship with Each Parent: The court evaluates the relationship and bond between the child and each parent, considering their past involvement and projected future commitments.
  • Adjustment to Home, School, and Community: The court considers the child’s adjustment to their current home, school, and community. Stability plays a significant role in these decisions.
  • Mental and Physical Health of All Parties: The physical and mental health of the child and both parents is another factor. This is not meant to discriminate against any disability but to ensure that the child’s well-being is prioritized.
  • The ability of the Parents to Encourage Shared Love and Contact: The court will look favorably upon a parent who can foster a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
  • The ability of Each Parent to Put the Child’s Needs First: The court assesses each parent’s capacity to prioritize the child’s needs over their own.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

Denver LawyerIn Colorado, there are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody involves where the child will live, while legal custody concerns who will make critical decisions about the child’s welfare, education, and health.

Parents can share these types of custody or one parent can have sole custody. In most cases, courts favor joint custody arrangements that allow the child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents, provided that this arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

Parenting Time and Parenting Plans

A fundamental aspect of child custody is parenting time, formerly known as visitation. A typical arrangement allows one parent to have the children during the week, and the other parent will have them on the weekend. However, every family’s situation is unique, and the courts will adjust the plan to fit individual circumstances.

Parents are encouraged to submit a parenting plan to the court. This plan outlines details such as the child’s living arrangements, holidays, transportation logistics, dispute resolution methods, and any other necessary stipulations.

Modifications to Custody Orders

After the initial custody arrangement is set, modifications can be made if there’s a significant change in circumstances that affect the child’s best interests. This could include changes in a parent’s work schedule, a parent moving, or changes in the child’s needs.

Navigating family law can be complex and emotionally taxing. At Baker Law Group, our experienced Denver Family Lawyers are here to support and guide you through the process. Contact a dedicated Colorado Family Law Attorney today to safeguard your family’s future. Trust us with your case; we’ll advocate fiercely for your rights and interests.

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