How child custody works in Colorado

It is possible that deciding that a marriage or relationship isn’t working may be the easier decision when children are involved. The harder issue may be determining how child custody will work out between the parents. In Colorado, the family laws were codified in 1973 and renamed in 1999 in order to better reflect the prevailing thoughts as to what living arrangements appear to best benefit the children.

Child custody is now referred to as parental responsibilities. The idea and objective remains the same: determining how parenting duties are split and managed between parents so that children will have the optimal opportunities to grow and thrive. The judge in each case will take into consideration the fitness of each parent and does not weigh preferences according to the gender of the parent. Instead, the court will examine the needs of the child and make a determination based on the parenting schedule that will best meet those needs.

Judges in Colorado start from the supposition that shared or joint legal custody will be the best option. This pertains to the ability of the parents to share in making the major decisions regarding the child’s needs; for example, schooling and health care decisions. This does not necessarily mean that physical custody of the child or children will also be shared, as the logistics of equal time at both homes may be an impossibility. It is now rare that a judge will decide on sole custody, except for cases where there is suspected abuse or other conditions that may jeopardize the health and well-being of a child.

The court will take a child’s opinion into consideration when deciding on what arrangement will be ordered, but the judge will make the final determination. In addition, the laws also make some provisions in regard to the visitation rights of grandparents. Parents who are facing this challenging matter can choose to consult an attorney who is familiar with the family laws in order to arrive at the best child custody plans for their particular children and circumstances.


FindLaw, “Colorado Child Custody Laws“, Accessed on Mar. 1, 2017

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