There are so many factors that determine child custody, but there has been some guidance given from the courts on this issue. There is actually a statute that talks about what the court does look at when determining custody and I have the list of that here and am going to go over a few of them with you. The statute dictates that the court look at all relevant factors. They are trying to get to what’s in the best interest of the children. Some other factors include the wishes of the child’s parents and the wishes of the child if they are sufficiently mature to express reason and independent preferences.
What does that mean?
That means some courts are willing to talk to the child. You can find judges that will actually talk to the child and get their opinion but in most cases child and family investigators are utilized. Those two, child family investigator and parental responsibilities evaluator, are court appointed experts that talk to the parents and children to come up with a report that gives an opinion on what custody should look like.
In most cases the child is not talking to the judge. In most cases the child would be talking to the either a child and family investigator or a parental responsibilities evaluator. There are key distinctions between those two positions. The parental responsibilities evaluator it is more about psychological issues and psychological testing. It is much more complex than using a child and family investigator who is more interested in just the facts of what’s going on; the wishes of the child.
Siblings, parents, and other significant persons
The court is going to consider extended family, nuclear family, what the situation is, and what’s in the best interest of the child from that perspective. They will also consider if there is a child and family investigator all of that is going to be investigated, and the mental and physical health of all the parties involved. You may have one parent that may have a mental illness of some kind. Mental illness is going to come into play and that is often when we have a parental responsibilities evaluator step in.
If you have a physical disability alone, like you are blind, the court is not supposed to be use the disability as a determining factor. A physical disability is not supposed to be used against a person, and you shouldn’t have parenting rights taken away from you because you are blind. You need to have the ability to take care of your children. There needs to be things in place that allow you to take care of your children if you are blind. Some assistance, means to be able to take care of them but you should not be penalized for a physical disability.
Here is a big one.
The ability of the party to encourage love, affection and contact with the other party. These come up quite a bit. You have parents that alienate the children, parents that tell the children bad things about the other parent and get them to dislike the other parent. That really comes into play if you have a custody fight that goes to court. Courts are supposed to look at evidence surrounding this issue if the party is not encouraging loving and affectionate contact with the other parent.
Past relationships for the parties to the child
You may have one parent that is really the primary caregiver. This may be the person that takes the child to all the doctors appointments, who does all the school things with the child and the other parent really hasn’t been involved in the child’s life. That will come into play as well in the custody decision. Physical proximity of the parties, as it relates to practicality of visitation. If they are going to be in different states, that is going to affect how custody is determined in a big way. For more information about filing for divorce, how divorce works, or any other family law matters in Colorado, call us at 303-329-3802.