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How Does a Judge Determine a Child’s Best Interests?

A child’s best interests play a central role in how a judge establishes their family law court orders. Whether you are going through a divorce, a legal separation, or a paternity case, if it involves one or more minor children, a judge carefully considers the children’s needs and what improving or maintaining their quality of life requires. If a custody evaluator or other parenting expert assists in a case involving children, they also use the legal standard of a child’s best interests to make recommendations.

Although Colorado courts aim to maintain relationships between a child and both their parents, a judge can issue a ruling that may not be what either or both parents originally desired if they are unable to communicate and reach a reasonable agreement that benefits their child.

What Decisions Do a Child’s Best Interest Affect in Colorado?

The child’s best interests are central to virtually any decision that directly affects a child after a divorce, a legal separation, or other specific situations such as paternity cases.

A judge carefully assesses a child’s best interest to issue rulings on:

If you petition for parental relocation in the future, a judge cannot prevent you from moving. However, they may deny your request to have your child move with you if they believe that it conflicts with the child’s best interests.

Any request to modify a court order that concerns your child also depends on whether they abide by the standard of your child’s best interests.

What Factors Does a Judge Consider?

The state provides multiple aspects to consider when evaluating whether any decision serves a child’s best interests in Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-124. Although Colorado law aims to uphold both parents’ involvement in their child’s life, a judge can decide against it if this presents risks of distress or physical harm to the child.

The legal standard of a child’s best interests includes the following factors:

  • The quality of the child’s relationships with each parent, any sibling, or other relevant relatives like grandparents
  • The child’s well-being in their home, school, and local community
  • The parents’ proposed parenting time allocation
  • The child’s wishes if they are old enough to express them independently
  • The parents’ capability and willingness to communicate and work together to support their child
  • All involved parties’ geographical proximity and/or proposed means to communicate regularly with the child outside of visitations

If a situation involves a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse disorder without treatment, a judge also takes it under consideration for a court order. However, a disability does not count against a parent if they are committed to their child’s best interests. If a parent has a criminal record, this may not interfere with maintaining a relationship with their child either.

Consult a Family Law Attorney to Protect Your Parental Rights

Whether you are choosing a legal separation or a divorce, working with a compassionate attorney can make a positive difference for you and your child. They can carefully review your situation and discuss your goals to understand how to effectively advocate for you. At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, we strive to minimize emotional distress for your children and always look for amicable solutions during or after your divorce whenever possible.

An experienced lawyer can recommend how to present your case during negotiations with your spouse or before the judge. If you are planning to relocate or request other modifications to existing court orders, an attorney also assist you in preparing your petition to help you secure a positive outcome.

If you need a trusted family law attorney in Colorado Springs or the Denver Metro Area, call Clawson & Clawson, LLP, today at (719) 602-5888 or use our online form to schedule a consultation!

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