Colorado re-defined the use of terms like “custody” and “visitation” in the nineties, per §14-10-103, C.R.S, the Colorado General Assembly redefined these terms as follows:
(3) On and after July 1, 1993, the term “visitation” has been changed to “parenting time”. It is not the intent of the general assembly to modify or change the meaning of the term “visitation” nor to alter the legal rights of a parent with respect to the child as a result of changing the term “visitation” to “parenting time”.
(4) On and after February 1, 1999, the term “custody” and related terms such as “custodial” and “custodian” have been changed to “parental responsibilities”. It is not the intent of the general assembly to modify or change the meaning of the term “custody” nor to alter the legal rights of any custodial parent with respect to the child as a result of changing the term “custody” to “parental responsibilities”.
The modification was only to the terminology: the law expressly says that no fundamental changes are intended. When determining a parenting schedule in Colorado, the “best interest of the children” standard will be used. The “best interests of the child” statute is found at §14-10-124, C.R.S.
Per §14-10-124, C.R.S., The Factors That Impact Parenting Time Are:
The court might consider a variety of criteria while deciding what is most beneficial for the child or children. Although the court is ordered to consider “all relevant factors,” the court does not have to consider every factor within the statute, however, the statute reads as follows:
(I) The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
The wishes of the parents. The court will look at what the parents desire for their children first- each Judge determines the appropriate weight to give each parent’s wishes
(II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
The wishes of the child. The court may take into account the wishes of your child, if your child is deemed to be sufficiently mature to express their opinion, but there is no defined age for which a Court has to consider your child’s wishes in the State of Colorado.
(III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
The Interaction with other family members. The Court may take into consideration a child’s association with a blended family, other siblings, other family members that are regularly involved in the child’s life. The Court will determine what weight to give this particular factor within your case.
(III.5) Any report related to domestic violence that is submitted to the court by a child and family investigator, if one is appointed pursuant to section 14-10-116.5; a professional parental responsibilities evaluator, if one is appointed pursuant to section 14-10-127; or a legal representative of the child, if one is appointed pursuant to section 14-10-116. The court may consider other testimony regarding domestic violence from the parties, experts, therapists for any parent or child, the department of human services, parenting time supervisors, school personnel, or other lay witnesses.
(IV) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
(V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
(VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor;
(VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
(VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
(IX) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 218, § 2, eff. July 1, 2013.
(X) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 218, § 2, eff. July 1, 2013.
(XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
Factors Affecting Decision Making
When it comes to “decision making,” like parenting time, judges are again required to consider “all relevant factors”, including a few more, such as:
Proof that the parties can work together to make decisions. If the parents are more collaborative, it is highly probable that the court will grant joint decision-making authority. If the parents are unable or unwilling to make choices jointly, the court may consider giving one parent decision-making authority over the other.
Evidence of both parties’ past involvement with the child that conveys a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support, demonstrating an ability to make decisions together to maintain a healthy and constructive relationship with the child. The court will take into account you and your spouse’s relationship with your child, as well as your ability to maintain a post-divorce relationship.
Evidence suggesting a certain ruling will foster more regular or continued contact between the kid and each of the parties. If one party possesses sole decision-making authority (or is seeking sole decision-making authority), the court will pay special attention to this element.
In most cases, one or both parents are given decision-making authority, with the statute encouraging shared authority. If the parents cannot agree, the court will rule which parent will be in charge of the children’s decisions. Decision making, generally relates to critical decisions and has little to do with day-to-day choices. Typically, the party with the children is in charge of making day-to-day judgments.
Contact a Colorado Child Custody Lawyer
While the factors discussed above are all enumerated in the statute, it is important to note that the Court does not have to consider every factor above when making a parenting plan.
If you wish to seek custody of your child, you should get an experienced legal counsel who can guide you clearly and cost-effectively through any stage of the conflict. Goldman Law, LLC’s family law attorneys will assist you in establishing a persuasive case on your behalf.
Call us at (303) 656-9529 to schedule an initial consultation or email us by using our contact form.