couple signing divorce papers

Divorce: Three Custody Facts for Parents

In 2017, at least three people for every 1,000 inhabitants of Colorado went through a divorce. While the numbers had been declining since 2011, one thing is for sure. It remains one of the hurtful processes families go through.

It is particularly impactful among the children. Many studies already show how it affects their relationships with themselves, their parents, and others. If you plan to go through this, it’s always best to work with family lawyers in Colorado Springs. These experts can guide you through the nitty-gritty of the proceedings.

It also helps to get through a better idea of how custody works in the state. Begin with these facts:

1. Colorado Recognizes Shared Parental Responsibilities

The state no longer uses the word “custody” but instead “parental responsibilities.” This change is significant as it already informs you how the court would like to decide in every divorce case. That is, they want both parents to be involved in the children’s lives, especially as they’re growing up.

Remember, however, that at the end of the day, the state will decide according to the best interests of the child. Only one parent might have the legal custody of the child. The other will receive visitation or other parental rights.

2. Legal Custody and Physical Custody Are Different

kid hugging her fatherSome people use the terms “legal custody” and “physical custody” interchangeably. They don’t mean the same thing.

In legal custody, the state identifies who has the primary responsibility in deciding for the child. It covers the kid’s health care, education, religion, etc. If the court decides to give it to only one parent, then the other parent’s opinion won’t matter.

In physical custody, the state determines where the child should live. Usually, the court advocates for 50/50. It means both parents will have equal chances of being with the kid physically. In many cases, that doesn’t happen. It’s not uncommon for one of the parents to move to a different state.

3. Children Can Decide for Themselves

Colorado courts allow children to decide which parent they want to live with. Some say the minimum age is 14, but the laws don’t require a particular age.

The only criterion is the child is “mature enough” to make such a decision. To determine this, the court has to consider many factors, particularly the child’s best interests. The child also doesn’t have to testify in court to state their preference. This way, they don’t find themselves in a tight spot of choosing while their parents are around.

Instead, the judge can choose to interview the kid in their chambers. The attorneys of both spouses can be present during this process. Custody hearings are short. They usually don’t last for hours. The outcome, however, can be life-changing, especially for the child.

In the end, the parents and the court decide according to what’s best for the kid. The battle won’t shelter a child from the pain of separation, but it doesn’t have to define their future relationship with their parents.