Colorado Colorado

Child Custody Law

Child Custody General Information - What Is Child Custody?

Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.

Child custody cases in Colorado can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:

  • Where the child lives (physical custody)
  • Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
  • How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged

This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Colorado court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.

Colorado Child Custody Law Summary

After a breakup or divorce in Colorado, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.

Some of the factors considered by Colorado in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence.

What Factors are Considered in a Custody Proceeding?

In contested hearings on final orders regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities, the court shall make findings on the record concerning the factors the court considered and the reasons why the allocation of parental responsibilities is in the best interests of the child.

The court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect that party's relationship to the child.

In determining parenting time or decision-making responsibilities, the court shall not presume that any person is better able to serve the best interests of the child because of that person's sex. A request by either party for genetic testing shall not prejudice the requesting party in the allocation of parental responsibilities.

When a claim of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault where there is also a claim that the child was conceived as a result of the sexual assault has been made to the court, or the court has reason to believe that a party has committed child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child, prior to allocating parental responsibilities, including parenting time and decision-making responsibility

The court shall consider the following factors:

Whether one of the parties has committed an act of child abuse or neglect, and which factor must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

Colorado Child Custody Factors - How Is Child Custody Decided In Colorado?

If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Colorado judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".

In the state of Colorado, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Colorado's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Colorado?

Colorado has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Do judges in the state of Colorado favor joint custody?

Judges in Colorado are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.

Courts in Colorado do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Do Colorado courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?

Colorado courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Colorado law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.

Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Colorado?

In Colorado, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.

Do Colorado courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?

Colorado has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.

Do the courts in the state of Colorado have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?

Colorado has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.

| State Law Official Text

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