When family court judges make rulings regarding child custody, their primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest. Keeping this in mind, judges then generally have to decide how or if the child custody (also referred to as parenting time) will be split between the parents, as well as whether one or both parents should be granted decision-making responsibilities for the child.
For child custody decisions, the court can determine that one parent gets sole custody, that both parents get joint custody or that both parents have custody rights, though custody is not equally split between the two parents (it’s important to note, however, that the court will typically accept child custody arrangements that have been agreed upon by both parents). When it comes to deciding how or if child custody will be split between parents, some of the factors that judges take into consideration include (but are not limited to):
- The child’s preferences, as well as the child’s relationship with each parent
- The preferences of each parent
- Where each of the parents lives
- Whether the child would be forced to move to a different school or adjust to a new community
- Whether either parent has a criminal record (and particularly if that criminal record has previous convictions of child abuse, domestic violence or sex offenses)
- The mental health of each parent (specifically if either parent has a history of mental health problems)
- Whether either parent would/does actively encourage the child to have a relationship with the other parent
In terms of assigning the decision-making responsibilities to one or both parents, judges will take all of the above factors into consideration and will also consider whether it is feasible that both parents can work together to come to agreements about what is best for the child in terms of health care, school choices, etc.
Given how complicated child custody arrangements can be, as well as the fact that single parents often don’t have the time (or may not have the knowledge regarding how) to assert their rights and present their case to the court, it’s essential that they work with the Colorado family law attorneys at the Law Office of Mike Hulen. For years, we have been successful at helping our Clients negotiate favorable child custody agreements. Contact us at (303) 932-8666 to learn more about your rights and receive professional advice regarding the best manner in which to proceed with your case.