Will Colorado kids get a larger say in abuse and neglect cases?

Currently, children in Colorado don’t get much of a voice in custody battles. Instead, decisions about who the child is placed with, how often they can see their parents or family and visitation is made solely by their attorney – known as “guardian ad litem.”

Guardian ad litems are required to advocate for the best interest of the child, but more often than not, the children don’t get much input. Therefore, the guardian ad litem might argue directly against the child’s wishes – taking away the child’s voice in an already stressful time.

A proposed bill will force the guardian ad litem to work with the children and incorporate their goals into the court discussions, instead of making decisions for them. This would only apply to children 12 years and up.

Why is it important for children to have a say?

Obviously, no one wants the child to end up back with abusive or neglectful parents. Oftentimes, the process of removing a child from these situations can be just as harmful or traumatic as leaving them there.

Giving children a voice and allowing them to make decisions for what they want to happen in custody hearings can help them feel more in control. It can also teach them reasoning skills and how to advocate for themselves, something they might not have gotten to do previously.

How will the new Colorado law affect that?

If the bill is passed, it will grant children ages 12 and up the ability to talk to their attorneys about their wishes in regard to custody and visitation. Final decisions will still be up to the judge but being able to talk to their attorneys instead of having decisions made for them will help children feel more represented.