In child custody matters, a Colorado court will primarily base its decision on what is in the best interests of the child. This does not mean, however, that parents have no say when it comes to child custody issues. The court will consider the parents' wishes in reaching a custody decision. And parents have a right to be heard, to present evidence and to voice their beliefs about what is in the child's best interest.
The courts in Colorado apply a number of factors in resolving child custody disputes. In addition to the wishes of the parents, the court will consider the child's wishes, as long as the child is mature enough to express those wishes independently of any parental bias or coaching. The court will also look at how the parents and the child interact, and how those interactions affect the child.
Other factors include how well the child is adjusting to their school, home and community; the physical and mental health of parents and child; and the willingness of each parent to encourage the child to have a meaningful relationship with the other parent. This last factor is one that parents need to be particularly mindful of. A parent who consistently criticizes the other parent in front of the child, or tries to turn the child against the other parent, may be hurting their own position in a custody dispute.
At the Law Firm of Shea L. Burchill, P.C., I have over a decade of experience practicing exclusively family law. I have helped many divorcing spouses negotiate a parenting plan that met the court's approval. For more on this area of my practice, please visit my Longmont Child Custody Lawyer web page.