When a Colorado family splits up due to parental separation or divorce, the weight that the children must bear can be extraordinary. In some cases, children may have to move out of the homes they have known their entire lives or split their time between the households of their mother and father. Children forced into these sometimes ugly legal situations can have strong opinions about how they would like their custodial matters handled.
Colorado courts do consider the wishes of children subject to their child custody rulings, but only to a point. A court must first determine that a child has the capacity to hold an independent opinion on the matter; this suggests that if a child is being influenced by one parent to state a preference that may not be true, a court could place little to no weight the comments of the child.
There is no set age upon which courts will begin to consider children’s custodial preferences. It is subjective to the case and while a child may have legitimate reasons to prefer one parent’s custodial rights over the other a court ultimately must determine what will serve the child’s best interests. There are many more factors that simply what a child wants that must be weighed when a court decides how best to provide a child with a custodial arrangement that serves their interests.
Child custody matters, both with regard to legal custody and physical custody, can be very challenging for the parents and children who are involved. It is important that children are heard when their futures are at hand, but in the end it is up to the ruling body of the court to determine if sole custody, joint custody, or another schedule will provide the child with support and care.