Best Interest of Child Standard
This page was written by our divorce attorney to explain what the “Best Interest of the Child” standard means and when it is applied. Best Interest of the Child is the standard that the Court would use to determine an allocation of both parenting time and decision making. Colorado Statutes define what the best interest of the child is in C.R.S. 14-10-124. This entire code section is devoted to what is the best interest of the child and should be considered in an Denver family law case involving children.
The first thing to understand is that the Colorado legislative encourage in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the child after the parties have separated. Lawyers know that this means that there is a presumption in Denver that both parents should have time with the child and that both parents should share the responsibilities and decision-making of raising the child.
The divorce attorney that you work with should be able to analyze your specific situation to determine if shared decision-making would be possible. There are cases, especially those concerning domestic violence and child abuse that do make this presumption possible or appropriate in Denver based family law cases.
A court can consider a wide variety of information and factors in determine what is or is not in the best interest of a child. Your lawyer should be able to present all relevant information, remember, the judge only see or hears what is presented, A judge does not know you or your situation.
Most likely, the factors the Court will consider in the best interest standard include:
- the wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time
- the wishes of the child (if older)
- the interaction and interrelationship between the child and parent, any siblings and/or other family members
- child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party
- whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support
- physical proximity of the parties to each other
- ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs
- parties ability to corporate together
- past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child indicate an ability to be mutual decision makers
- if mutual decision-making will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties
Although one factor is not more important than another, it has been noted by many judges in the Denver metro area that a parents ability to move past the issues with the other parent for the good of the child shows that the parent is able to put the child’s needs ahead of their own. Conversely, if a parent is negative or attacks the other parent or brings the child into the fight, a court may find that this action shows the parent cannot put the needs of the child first and may award less time with the child. As a divorce attorney for a number of years, I have found that this may be one of the more important factors that a court considers.
If you and the other party are unable to reach a decision, an expert may be appointed. This person may be a CFI or PRE. It is not uncommon for a CFI’ to be lawyers who have had extensive practice as divorce attorneys, although there is no requirement that a CFI be a lawyer. Many times a court will rely on the report or opinion of the CFI (child family investigator) or PRE (parent responsibility evaluator). The CFI or PRE should consider the factors above when making his or her recommendations to the court. You will receive a copy of the CFI report or PRE report prior to the hearing. If the report is inaccurate and/or you do not agree with the findings, it may be worthwhile to have a non-biased person review the information and provide an opinion as to options that you may have. Sometimes being too close to any issue can result in a court awarding less parenting time to you against your wishes. If the report is unfavorable, you may consider implementing some of the recommendations in the report in order to show the court that you are able to put your child’s needs ahead of your own.
If you would like to receive more information on the standards and considerations that a court uses in deciding family law issue, please contact us, we are centrally located in Denver, or by calling (303) 747-4686 or CLICK HERE.