Any legal matter involving a member of your family is bound to be an emotionally intense endeavor, but matters involving your children can be especially complicated. No matter what your personal desires and best interests are, any court in Colorado making a determination about parenting time and responsibility will base their decision on the child’s best interests, rather than those of either parent.
Fortunately, our local family law attorneys are here to help you more effectively advocate for a future that secures your child’s best interests. With guidance and support from a Greenwood Village child custody lawyer, you could ensure your child ends up in the best possible circumstances for their physical and emotional wellbeing, while also ensuring your desires are represented and respected in court.
The Best Interests of the Child Standard
When making a decision about “parenting responsibilities” and “parenting time,” which are known respectively in other states as custody and visitation rights, Colorado courts are required by law to prioritize the best interests of the child above all else. Even if a child’s parents or legal guardians come to a private agreement about the child’s parenting time arrangements, or how decisions concerning the child will be made, that agreement is not legally enforceable unless a court reviews and approves the agreement as an Order of the Court. This ensures that the child’s best interests are met and at the forefront of the agreement.
According to Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-124, a family court may take a number of diverse factors into consideration when determining what kind of custody arrangement would be in a particular child’s best interests, including (but not limited to):
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
- 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 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 child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- 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;
- 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;
- Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
- Physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; and
- The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
While this statute does allow for the personal wishes of each parent to be taken into consideration by a court, any such wish that conflicts with what the court deems to be in the child’s best interests would not supersede any other factor. A knowledgeable Greenwood Village child custody attorney could offer further clarification about how a judge might approach and rule on an individual case.
Sole Versus Joint Custody Arrangements
Unless extenuating circumstances apply, both Colorado state law and court precedent hold that it is generally in a child’s best interests for their parents to share parenting responsibilities.
Various practical and personal concerns may make an equal share of physical parenting time more difficult to manage, particularly if a child’s parents live far apart from each other geographically. Accordingly, many child custody cases end with one parent being granted primary physical residence, with the other being granted “parenting time” with their child on a regular schedule.
However, each case is unique in terms of what the best arrangement for a specific child would be. It is almost always best to talk to a skilled child custody lawyer in the area for help understanding parental responsibilities and advocating for an ideal parenting time arrangement.
Speak to a Greenwood Village Child Custody Attorney About Legal Options
Custody of children following a divorce or separation is often a hotly contested issue, and even if both parents agree on a preferred custody/parenting time arrangement, only a court can ultimately issue an Order regarding parenting responsibilities that is legally enforceable. If you want to effectively pursue a positive resolution to your case, especially if there are concerning issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, or child abuse, you should think twice before going without experienced and dedicated legal representation.
A knowledgeable Greenwood Village child custody lawyer could be your strongest and most essential ally in this kind of emotionally charged case. Call the Colorado Lawyer Team today to discuss the possibilities in your situation during a private consultation.