How to Determine Custody After Divorce

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Divorce is hardly ever pleasant for anyone involved. Even for the most amicable divorce, there is still a sense of tragedy for both parties. However, it is even more difficult for the children, since this was not their decision to make.

The justice system follows rules to ensure that the welfare of the children is prioritized in any divorce proceeding. When a couple files for a divorce in Denver, Colorado, the court might need to step in and determine who among the parents or guardians should have primary custody.

Who is the Better Parent?

There are many factors that the family court and the judge must consider when making their decision. It is the welfare of children at stake, and this adds weight to the decision. Aside from the obvious factors such as the stability of work and the ability to provide a satisfactory home environment, the court can also listen to the parents’ wishes and even the child’s wishes. They can also examine how much of an emotional bond the child shares with each parent.

The family court will also try to avoid more drastic changes for the child. It would be best for the rest of his/her life to be the same, so the court would not favor a parent if the child has to move to another state or school unless the parent concerned is the “better parent.” Colorado doesn’t have a default decision that custody should go to the mother unless she is unfit. It’s really a toss-up and it depends on who can better perform parental responsibilities.

50/50 Split

The “Ideal” set-up of a 50/50 split is difficult to achieve since the parents’ circumstances are different, and it is presumed that one party may have a problem (which led to the divorce in the first place). There is also the distance factor, as one parent may even cross state lines. That said, in many cases, one parent has sole custody or primary parental responsibilities of the child and the other parent will just have visitation rights. The time allowed for visitation is also determined by the judge, depending on the parties’ circumstances.

There would be instances of full custody and no visitation rights for the other parent if there were tendencies of violence or abuse discovered in the other parent. In these cases, the welfare of the child is more important than the rights of the parent to visit their child.

Can the Child Decide?

Child with parents arguing in the background talking to their lawyer

We may have seen this in divorce dramas on TV or the movies, and this is a question we playfully throw around our children: Who do you love more, mommy or daddy? This question will be asked if the child has the capacity to make an independent opinion, as mentioned earlier, but it will not be the sole determining factor.

There are also factors to check on how much weight a child’s opinion can carry. His age, level of maturity, and the court also have to determine whether the child may have been influenced by other factors. For instance, if a father is jobless, he gets to spend more time with the child and earns the child’s favor, but his being jobless also affects his capacity to be a better parent.

Child custody is a complex subject that requires careful analysis and professional opinion. It is best to hire a lawyer if you get involved in a divorce and a battle for child custody.

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