Married or unmarried, parents in Colorado and elsewhere make many important decisions regarding their children on a daily basis. While many parents can agree on these decisions, others do not. This can be especially challenging when parents are no longer together due to divorce or separation.
Family law matters could present themselves at any time, and when it comes to child custody issues, it is important that parents understand their legal rights when it comes to securing their parental rights.
Colorado child custody
Since 1999, Colorado has referred to child custody as “parental responsibility.” With regards to parental responsibilities, this term refers to which parent the child lives with, whether one or both parents make major decisions and what parenting time or visitation will be for the non-custodial parent if it is not a joint arrangement.
When determining parental responsibilities, if parents cannot agree on this, the court will base their decision on the best interests of the child.
This standard is used to determine what is best for the child, assessing the wishes of the parents, the child’s wishes, the emotional bonds between the child and parents and any potential challenges the child may face if they had to move to a new neighborhood or school.
Other custody laws
Joint custody is not recognized in Colorado. Rather, Colorado courts use the term “decision-making responsibility.” There is no preference on how this responsibility is allocated, but it must be based on the child’s best interest. Grandparent visitation rights are also recognized in the state. This means that they can take steps to secure visitation with a grandchild.
It should be noted that Colorado courts will consider the child’s wishes when establishing parental responsibilities. However, the court will only consider this a factor if the child is sufficiently mature enough to express a reasoned and independent preference with regard to time spent with one or both parents.
Family law matters can be complex, emotional and challenging to navigate. Whether you are seeking to establish a custody order or modify a current one, it is imperative that you fully understand your situation and options. This will help protect your rights while focusing on the best interests of the children.