Best Interests of the Children
The Colorado legislature has determined that children have the right to have determinations involving them be based upon the "best interests of the children". C.R.S. 14-10-123.4.
The problem is obvious - when the two parents who know the children best disagree, how is a stranger in a black robe supposed to know what is in the children's best interests? Simple - pass another law.
C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(a) outlines the criteria to determine whether a parenting schedule is in a child's best interests:
- The wishes of the child's parents;
- The wishes of the child, if sufficiently mature (typically starts about 12 or so),
- The relationship between the child, the parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
- The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
- Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
- The physical proximity of the parties to each other;
- Whether a party has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;
- Whether a party has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse;
- The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(b) outlines additional criteria, in addition to the criteria outlined above, for a court to consider when determining parental decision-making responsibility:
- Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
- Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
- Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties;
- A perpetrator of child abuse or neglect may not have decision-making over the other's objection;
- A perpetrator of spousal abuse may not have decision-making over the other's objection, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.
C.R.S. 14-10-124 prohibits courts from considering the following in determining the best interests of a child:
- Conduct which does not affect a party's relationship with the child (since Colorado has no-fault divorce, courts don't want custody fights to be an excuse to bring in irrelevant allegations, such as adultery).
- Gender of the parties.
- A request for genetic testing.
- A parent leaving the home due to the other's spousal abuse.
Phone: 719-328-1616 Fax: 719-630-8495