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.
The first thing to understand is that the Colorado legislative encourage via the statute that 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. This means that there is a presumption that both parents should have time with the child and that both parents would share the responsibilities and decision-making of raising the child. Although this may not be possible in all cases, it certainly should be considered in most cases.
A court will use the standard of the best interest of the child to allocate parental responsibility, including parenting time and decision-making. When making decisions for the child, the court should consider all relevant factors, including:
- 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 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 asks only to attack 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.
Many times a court will rely on the report or opinion of a 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 would 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 and/or to emotional will result in a court awarded 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 by calling (303) 747-4686 or CLICK HERE.