The following is a summary of Colorado child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Colorado Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Intent of Colorado Legislature.

Colorado laws state that it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. In order to effectuate this goal, Colorado laws and lawmakers urge parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents.

-From 14-10-124 of the Colorado Revised Statutes

Parenting Plan.

In cases involving child custody (whether contested or uncontested), both parties must submit a parenting plan or plans for the court’s approval that shall address both physical custody and visitation, and the allocation of decision-making responsibilities. If no parenting plan is submitted or if the court does not approve a submitted parenting plan, the court, on its own motion, shall formulate a parenting plan that shall address physical custody and visitation and the allocation of decision-making responsibilities.

Colorado Laws on Best Interest of the Child.

The court shall determine the allocation of parental responsibilities, including physical custody and visitation, and decision-making responsibilities, in accordance with the best interests of the child giving paramount consideration to the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child. In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of custody, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including the following guidelines under Colorado laws:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to custody;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the custody and visitation schedule;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
  9. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, which shall be supported by credible evidence;
  10. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; and
  11. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Laws Regarding Legal Custody.

The court, upon the motion of either party or its own motion, shall allocate the decision-making responsibilities between the parties based upon the best interests of the child. The court may award decision-making responsibilities (legal custody) solely to one parent or jointly between the two parents. In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of allocating decision-making responsibilities, the court shall consider, in addition to the factors listed above, the following:

  1. Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
  2. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
  3. Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties;
  4. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect that is supported by credible evidence. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, then it shall not be in the best interests of the child to allocate mutual decision-making with respect to any issue over the objection of the other party or the representative of the child;
  5. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse that is supported by credible evidence. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, then joint custody over the objection of the other party shall not be in the best interests of the child, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.

The court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect that party’s relationship to the child, and shall not presume that any person is better able to serve the best interests of the child because of that person’s sex. If a party is absent or leaves home because of spouse abuse by the other party, such absence or leaving shall not be a factor in determining the best interests of the child.

Medical Emergencies.

In the event of a medical emergency, either party shall be allowed to obtain necessary medical treatment for the minor child or children without being in violation of the order allocating decision-making responsibility or in contempt of court.

 

This information has been summarized from the Colorado statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Colorado divorce statutes online here: Colorado Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD CUSTODY LAWS.

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