After a divorce or separation, at least one of the parents usually moves out of the family home, so a decision must be made about how much parenting time the children should have with each parent. Legal rules and legal standards exist that govern how these kinds of child custody decisions are made. This blog post will provide some basic information on how child custody decisions are made by family law courts in Colorado.
First of all, there are two kinds of custody recognized in family law courts. A parent with physical custody is the parent with whom the children live. Sometimes the parents are awarded joint custody, where the children spend an approximately equal time with each parent. Other times, the court will award one parent primary custody, in which case the other parent is usually awarded visitation.
Besides physical custody, the other kind of custody is legal custody. This is the legal right to make important decisions about the children's lives. These important decisions include where they will grow up, what school they will go to, and what religion they will observe. Usually, both parents have legal custody over their children.
How do courts make child custody decisions? Colorado has legal rules and guidelines that its courts are expected to follow when making these decisions. The most important and best-known rule is that courts must make decisions that favor the best interests of the child. Some factors that may be taken into account include the mental and physical health of the parents, the need to continue a stable home environment, adjustment to school and community, and parental behavior and substance abuse concerns.