The basics of child custody laws in Colorado

If you are a parent in Colorado, understanding the basics of child custody laws will help you make decisions about what is best for your children during and after a divorce. Take a look at the type of custody you may get and the factors judges consider when making this decision.

Colorado parental responsibility

Colorado is unlike other states; instead of sole or joint custody, it has a program called parental responsibility. This arrangement sets forth rules and regulations that parents must follow after divorce or separation.

Parental responsibility is categorized further into residential and decision-making responsibility. Residential responsibility refers to which parent the child lives with most of the time. Decision-making responsibility refers to the parent who makes decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, health care and religion.

In most cases, the parents will share decision-making and residential responsibility equally. However, if one parent is deemed unfit or unable to care for the child, the other parent will likely
be awarded sole residential or decision-making responsibility.

Factors judges consider when making child custody decisions in Colorado

Regardless of all the underlying circumstances, the judge puts most weight on the child’s best interest while making custody and child support decisions. For example, a child may prefer to live with one parent, but if the court considers them unfit, that parent would most likely not get custody. Among other things the court considers include:

  • The ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • The relationship the child has with their parents
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse
  • Any other factors relevant to your situation

If you and the other parent can agree on your child custody and support terms, you won’t have to go to court. Any decision you’ll make will hold, but you must have the judge sign it to make it official. Out-of-court custody agreements are typically simpler, cheaper, more private and faster.