If you have ever been involved in a child custody case or you are about to begin one you most likely have heard the phrase “best interests of the child.”
In Colorado, child custody and visitation issues are based on the best interests of the child standard. This is also known as Parenting time.
So when you ask, “what are my chances I’ll get custody”, here is a general list of what the courts use to analyze the “best interests of the child.”
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence of the existing or proposed home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent of the child and rents.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to the particular family.
Parenting time and decision making.
This is the often the most crucial issue in divorces. In determining where the children will live and when they will see each parent, and who will make the major decision for children until they are 19, the court is guided by one standard–the best interests of the child. Allocation of parenting time, decision making, and a child support award will not be given to a parent as a reward or as punishment to the guilty parent but rather to the one most adaptable to the task of caring for the child and able to control and direct the child.
The courts will try to view it from the child’s best interest.
Other factors considered may include the age of the parent and child, the physical and mental condition of the parent and child, the relationship existing between each parent and each child, the needs of the child, the role played by each parent in the upbringing and caring for the child, the home where the child will live and the child’s wishes if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to make such a decision. Allocation of parenting time and decision making can be modified after the initial decision is made, these changes are referred to as post-decree modifications. It is important to understand, however, how a pattern of parenting time may impact the ability to modify parenting time and the standard that will be applied in post-decree cases. The standard in post-decree modifications may not be best interests, but may be a much harder standard referred to generally as “endangerment”.
If the parties can not agree to an appropriate parenting time and decision making arrangement, then the Court will decide. An important factor to the court in most parental rights cases is which parent will be the most likely to see to it that the non-custodial parent remains a strong part of the child or children’s lives.
An experienced family law attorney will know how to advocate on your behalf.