Judges Consider a Number of Factors in Custody Cases

Colorado family courts consider a number of factors when determining parenting time. Family Law attorney Emily Vanderlaan shares what you can expect in custody court.

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Factors Judges Consider when Determining Parenting Time

Parents in a divorce case frequently want to know whether the mother is always awarded sole custody, especially when the child is particularly young. The answer is no.

There are a number of factors the court considers before making any custody determination. Usually, a judge considers what is in the best interest of the child or children involved.

What Works Best for Your Family

The judge wants to determine which parent will be the best fit and which custody plan will be in the best interest of the child. The court considers the child’s age, what works best for everyone’s mental and physical health, and the extent the parents can and want to be involved in the child’s life.

Judicial Guides

The court turns to the laws already on the books and reviews any pending legislation that might regard parenting time. Colorado law says family law judges must take into account the following when determining parenting time:
  1. The wishes of the parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express a preference as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. The effect of others who significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. How the child has adjusted to a new home, school or community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved. A disability alone is not enough to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The child’s overall safety – if the child could be harmed or neglected or may witness their parents being violent.
  7. Whether the parents have a history of demonstrating love and support for the child;
  8. Whether the parents live close enough to each other to permit shared parenting time;
  9. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Health & Safety of the Child

There are a number of other factors the court may consider while determining parenting time. The most important is the heath and safety of the child.

When it comes down to it, a judge looks at the best custody plan to suit the child’s needs. What are the factors that would work best for everybody involved and the ability and desire of each parent to provide the best for the child.

Moms or Dads: Does Gender Matter?

During the 1980s and earlier, it was common for mothers to be awarded more parenting time than fathers, especially if the child was very young. Whether they worked or not, mothers were thought to be more suited to caring for children.

Times have changed. Today, Colorado courts let the best interest of the child guide them, rather than gender stereotypes when determining parenting time.

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