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Understanding child custody

The most sensitive and emotionally trying legal issue in many divorces is child custody. Coming to a just division of parenting time can spark and ignite some unpleasant feelings and emotions, but it is important to be remain collected through this process. It is important to remember that this process is about the child, and the court will decide matters based on its interpretation of the best interest of the child.

Colorado courts generally use the term "parental responsibilities" when discussing child custody issues. Court work under the assumption that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain a relationship with both parents, and so courts attempt to divide the parenting responsibilities between the parents in a way that meets the child's best interest. This process can often leave one parent with primary responsibilities, while the other parent retains rights to visitation and other parental roles. In rare cases, if the child has been abused, the court will delegate sole parenting responsibility to the parent not involved in the abuse.

In reaching the fair division of parental responsibility, the court will take note of the child's wishes. The child must be at an age where they are able to form an independent opinion. In Colorado, this age can vary depending on the judge's determination. Despite the child's input, the court will be the final decision regarding the child's custody. On a final note, unlike some other states, Colorado recognizes a grandparent's right to visitation, but the U.S. Supreme Court has limited this right.

It can be difficult for parents experiencing the emotional child custody process to navigate the legal nuances and complexities involved. Even determining the first steps of the process can be stressful and confusing. An attorney can help

Source: FindLaw.com, "Colorado Child Custody Laws," accessed Oct. 4, 2017

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