When Colorado courts are tasked with making an initial determination of parenting time (formerly known as “physical custody”), the standard they must apply is “best interests of the child.” But what is “best interests?” There are several best interest factors that the Court will take into consideration and use when formulating a parenting plan. It is necessary to always keep these factors, outlined below, in mind during your custody matter:
Of course, the parents’ wishes as to parenting time will always be taken into consideration. Keep in mind that it is important for the Court to see that you are acting in the child’s best interests with your parenting time request. Don’t be fooled, though. What you want is nowhere near the most important factor.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no set age in Colorado when the Court will consider or follow the wishes of the child. A Court will only take the child’s wishes into consideration if the Court believes they are mature enough to express a preferred parenting time schedule. Court’s don’t like to involve kids. Asking kids who they prefer makes them chose one parent over the other. That act of choosing can have life long consequences.
The Court will take into consideration your child’s relationship with you, the other parent, any step or half-siblings, etc. Relationships are important for kids. Brothers and sisters provide needed support.
The Court will consider your child’s neighborhood and her attachment to the neighborhood and community, how your child is doing in school and at home, etc. Judges like to keep kids in their community whenever possible.
Unless you or the other parent suffers from a mental or physical health issue, this factor will not be relevant. Drug and alcohol use may be relevant. Any signs of abuse will quickly get the court’s attention.
This is an extremely important factor for the Court to consider. If you can’t encourage a relationship between your child and the other parent, the Court may not make you the majority parent.
This is another crucial factor in the “best interests” standard. The Court will look at each parent’s involvement in raising your child. This includes day-to-day care and raising the child with values and morality.
This is only a relevant factor if you and the other parent live a significant distance away from each other. If so, the Court will need to consider the distance the child will have to travel. Travel time is relevant to how practical a parenting time schedule would be given the distance.
This is an extremely important factor. The Court will want to know that you always place your child first. Are you acting in a selfish or vindictive manner when making a certain parenting time request? Or is your motive to benefit the children?
“Best Interests” will always guide the Courts in making a parenting time determination for your child. It is important to know these factors and focus on them during your case. If you’re currently facing a custody matter, please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation, where we will be able to discuss in detail how the best interest standard applies to your unique case.
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