If you live in Colorado and your marriage has come to an end, you may have concerns about the custody of children you share with your soon-to-be-former spouse. Rather than custody, the state uses the term “parental responsibility” to describe how the child will divide time after the divorce. 

Learn more about the considerations of the state family court in determining a fair child custody arrangement. 

“Best interest of the child” standard 

As in most states, the child’s best interest is a top priority in deciding child custody. The judge may consider factors including but not limited to: 

  • The child’s existing relationship with parents and any siblings, as well as with other relatives 
  • The mental and physical health of both the child and the parents 
  • How well the child has adjusted to his or her current community, home and school 
  • Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent 
  • Each parent’s history of caring for the child 
  • The distance between the parents’ homes 
  • The child’s wishes if he or she has the maturity to express a preference 

The child custody process 

During divorce proceedings, the parents will have a chance to submit a child custody agreement that meets their needs and their child’s needs. If parents cannot agree on this type of plan, the judge will mandate custody based on the factors above and any other relevant circumstances. 

Before your divorce is final, both you and your spouse must complete a court-mandated parenting class. This program, which is available in-person and online, helps parents and children cope with the changes that come with the end of a marriage and provides resources for healthy, effective co-parenting. 

Colorado courts prefer that divorcing parents share time, financial support and legal responsibility for their child whenever possible. They must agree on big decisions about health, education and upbringing. Generally, with shared custody, the parent who earns more money will pay child support to the other parent.