Parenting Time Attorney in Denver
Best Interests Standards in Colorado
Colorado law provides that each parent is entitled to reasonable and liberal parenting time unless the child’s physical health would be endangered or the emotional development of the child would be significantly impaired. Even when a parent is deemed “unfit” to be the custodial parent or to share decision-making responsibilities, she or he is entitled to reasonable parenting time absent a showing of endangerment.
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Factors in Determining a Parenting Time Schedule
Colorado domestic relations courts have broad discretion when entering orders as to parenting time. They are required to consider the following factors:
- The wishes of the child’s parents: The court considers what and why parents want a particular schedule. These wishes carry less weight if they do not appear to be in the best interests of the child.
- The wishes of the child: The child’s age and maturity are relevant factors in how much weight is given to their wishes. Technically, a child’s statements are hearsay and children are almost never allowed to testify, even privately, in divorce and child custody cases. Nevertheless, the court often learns about the wishes of a child indirectly through a written report prepared by a child and family investigator (CFI) or a parental responsibilities evaluator (PRE), if one is hired in the case.
- The relationship between the child, parent, siblings and others: Including who the child spends time with, shared activities, any known and persistent fighting or arguments, extended family, and more.
- Adjustment to home, school, and community: Including the age and time spent in the family home, which parent will remain in the family home, any moves in the child’s past, the condition of the home, the child’s current adjustment to one or both homes, schooling arrangements, special needs, the location of the child’s church, extracurricular activities, and other community concerns.
- The physical and mental health of all parties: These considerations vary in importance, given the age of a child. If a parental responsibilities evaluation is ordered, it will usually assess the mental and physical health of all parties involved. A child family investigator has no authority to perform a mental health evaluation but may recommend such an evaluation to the court.
- Ability to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact: The court will look for evidence the either or both party’s support each other’s parenting. A party who doesn’t encourage the other parent’s parenting without valid cause may be penalized.
- The past pattern of involvement with the child: The court try to determine which party has been the primary caretaker, responsible for the majority of child care and child rearing.
- The existence of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence: Under Colorado law, this includes causing injury to the health of a child by putting them in danger or carrying out a pattern of cruelty or mistreatment. This includes situations of domestic violence, threats, coercion, violence, and neglect.
- The ability to place the needs of the child first: The court will look for evidence of parents putting the considerations of their child before their own, such as flexibility on their own parenting time if it will make the child happy.
These factors are numerous and highly dependent on a family’s unique circumstances. To receive personalized representation that fights for the best interests of your family, schedule your free initial case consultation with Denver Family Lawyers today.