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How do courts decide child custody issues in Colorado?

When a married couple decides to divorce, or when an unmarried couple decides not to cohabit, decisions must be made regarding the upbringing of any children the couple may have. Sometimes these couples are able to agree on issues such as where the children will live or where they will go to school. If the ex-couple is unable to agree on these issues, a family law court will usually be tasked with making these decisions. This blog post will provide a brief summary of child custody law for interested Longmont residents.

Courts will usually award physical custody to one parent. The other parent usually has the right to parenting time with the child. It is the usual situation for the parents to share legal custody of the child. The term "legal custody" includes the right of the parent to make important life decisions for the child, such as matters of the child's religion, schooling and health care.

Sometimes the parents will have a joint-custody arrangement. Instead of one parent having physical custody and the other having parenting time, the child in a joint-custody arrangement spends a roughly equal amount of time with each parent. Experts do not agree on the issue of whether a joint-custody arrangement is preferable to giving physical custody to one parent only. It is agreed that joint custody requires the cooperation of both parents, so courts may not award joint custody if they do not think that the parents can implement it fairly.

Courts are legally required to take the best interests of the child into account when establishing child custody. Parents who come to court with legal counsel may be in a better position to assist the court in seeing to it that the best interests of the children are indeed reflected in child custody orders.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Basics," accessed Feb. 28, 2016

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