What CO Consider in Child Custody Cases

When you decide to get a divorce, and there are children involved, divorce cases tend to get a lot more complicated. You may be the best parent in the world and assume the children should naturally live with you most of the time. However, a judge is going to consider a few factors – no matter who you are – to decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Being a good parent isn’t a guarantee the parenting time schedule you desire nor does it mean that a child will necessarily come to live with you. There are several factors that will be identified and considered by the judge in the case to understand what will best serve the child and not necessarily the parents.

What are these considerations? Read on to understand a little more clearly what types of issues are considered in child custody cases that the court uses to determine the best outcome for the children.

Factors Judges Consider

Family law judges in Colorado will look at different aspects of a case to determine what is in the best interest of the child. Their goal is to find a balance between the child’s best interests along with what the family would like. Remember, there is no set of firm rules that state who should have custody or who should share custody.

It’s determined on a case-by-case basis by taking these factors into account:

  • What the parents want
  • What the child wants if they are old enough to express it
  • The current relationships among members of the family
  • How well a child will adjust to their school, home, and other activities
  • The physical and mental health of the family in the child’s life
  • If all parties can encourage a positive relationship with each other and maintain contact
  • How each parent was involved in the child’s life before the divorce
  • How far apart each parent’s home is
  • Whether or not the parents are able to cooperate and make joint decisions
  • Whether or not the parents are able to create a positive environment for the child
  • Whether or not joint decision-making for each parent is beneficial to the child

The state of Colorado believes that each child has the right to mentally, physically, and emotionally be safe. As you go through the divorce process, this must be considered when working with the other parent of your children and guide how you interact.

The more cooperative and amicable you can be, the better chance that the judge will decide on a child custody arrangement that gives you the parenting time you want.

Colorado Springs CHild Custody Lawyer

Other Factors To Understand Regarding Child Custody

In Colorado, the terms “joint custody” and “sole custody” are simply not used. Instead, the term “parental responsibility” is used to describe joint or primary custody.

If one parent has fewer than 90 overnight visits with their child in one year’s time, then the other parent is considered by the Colorado courts to have primary custody. If each parent has about the same amount of time with their child over a year, then they are considered by the courts to have joint parental custody.

Some other terms that are important to understand include:

Physical Custody

In Colorado, physical custody refers to the time a child is physically with a parent.

Legal Custody

In the state, legal custody is the ability and authority of a parent to make important decisions about the child’s welfare. This can include their religion, health, and education.

What About Child Support?

Child support is determined in part by which parent has the majority of time with the child. However, that’s not the only factor. Child support is also determined by the gross monthly income of the parent as well as other relevant expenses.

Can a Child Pick What Parent They Would Like to Stay With?

In the state of Colorado, there’s no age at which children are allowed to decide what parent they want to live with. There’s a common misconception that when a child turns 13, they’re allowed to make that decision on their own. This is simply not true. The judge in your case has the authority to issue parenting time orders until a child’s 18 th birthday. That is the day that a child can fully decide who they want to live with. However, this is not to say that children do not have input either. As children get closer to the age of 18, the court will take into account more and more a child’s wishes. Those wishes will never be the determining factor, but it will be a factor that is considered.

Colorado Springs Child Custody Lawyer

Do You Need a Parenting Plan?

Parenting plans are plans submitted to the court by the parents that allocate parenting time for holidays and other times of the year. Both parties are required to know the terms in place for decision-making, visitation, taxes, and other issues.

When the court has determined the child custody arrangement, you will be issued a Permanent Order. These orders can be modified if it’s in the best interest of the child.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.