How Does the Colorado Court Determine Custody?

Ending a relationship is not an easy task. It becomes even more complex when there are child(ren) involved. You may decide the best thing for your child(ren) is to file for custody. This can be stressful and emotionally draining. Going to court, especially over a child, is hard. As a parent going through a custody case, you must be mindful of what life will look like for your child(ren), moving forward. You need to take the right steps to protect their well-being as well as well as your parental rights.

The term “custody” has been phased out over the years and replaced with the term “allocation of parental responsibilities” (APR). As you go through your court case, you should be aware of some issues the Court will take into consideration with determining the allocation of parental responsibilities.

In allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado, the Court considers several factors, including:

1. The wishes of the parents.

The court will consider the wishes of each parent with regards to physical custody of the child(ren) as well as decision-making responsibilities. The parents may agree to a parenting plan that calls for the child to stay primarily with one of them, or the parents may share physical custody equally. Likewise, if the parents are effectively able to co-parent, they may agree to share decision making authority.

2. Relationship between the child(ren) and the parents, siblings, and other people involved in their life.

The Court also considers the relationship that a child might have with his/her parents, siblings and other family members. This may be crucial, especially if there is likely to be a separation of siblings by the separating parents.

3. The children’s ability to adjust to his/her normal social life.

The Court will consider how the child(ren) will adjust to a new home, school, and community as applicable.

Other factors that the Court considers include the physical and mental health of the parties involved, the ability of the parents to interact and stay in contact especially where there has been domestic violence or physical abuse, as well as previous behaviors of the involvement of the parents with the child(ren). The Court may also consider the proximity of the homes of each parent to the other and will consider the ability of each parent to put the interest of the children before their own.

When the Colorado Court is deciding the allocation of parental responsibilities, it must do so while considering, first and foremost, the best interest of the child(ren).  Additionally, the court will encourage effective co-parenting by the parents with the goal of keeping them both actively involved in their child’s life, which will ultimately be the best benefit to the child(ren).

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