The decision to have a child results in significant personal responsibility. Parents have to provide for the basic needs of their child, from shelter and clothing to food and healthcare, until that child turns 18. Usually, married parents share those responsibilities and support one another as they seek to raise their children into healthy and happy adults.
However, not all parents remain married until their children finish school or turn 18. When married parents divorce or unmarried parents separate and put together a custody order, a judge will have the authority to resolve any outstanding disputes by entering an order outlining the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.
Many factors influence a judge’s decision
Under Colorado state law, a judge needs to carefully consider the unique factors of a family’s circumstances when trying to split parenting time, decision-making authority and other parental responsibilities. For example, the age, health and sex of the children, as well as the relationship that they have with each of their parents, can have a powerful impact on what a judge believes would be an appropriate division of parental responsibilities and rights.
A judge should always seek solutions for a family that they believe will be in the best interests of the children. For most households, the children will benefit the most from having both of their parents regularly involved in their lives.
Despite exaggerated horror stories about one parent totally losing access to the children, judges tend to prefer shared parenting time arrangements rather than letting one person manage most of the children’s needs and the other only have visitation with the children. Sole custody outcomes are rare and usually only occur when there is mutual agreement between the parents or significant evidence of some kind of instability, like addiction or a history of abuse, that would put the children at risk.
Divorcing parents in Colorado generally have the option of working with each other to settle their disagreements, or they can ask a judge to make final determinations about how parenting time and other parental responsibilities will be assigned. Those who understand the guiding factors that influence custody determinations in Colorado may have an easier time protecting their relationship with their children accordingly.