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Can my child choose who to live with?

The term child custody has not been used in Colorado Family Court since 1999. Since then, it has been replaced with the term parental responsibility. This change of term does not impact how child custody is decided. While most aspects of a child custody case are pretty universal, in Colorado not only are grandparent’s rights weighed but, in certain cases, a child may be allowed to suggest which parent he or she would like to live with.

Family courts throughout the nation typically base child custody decisions on the best interest of the child. The factors that are considered include the child’s and parents’ wishes, the emotional bond between parent and child and any difficulty that may be experienced through a change in living arrangements.

With family courts using the best interest of the child model to base custody arrangements on, most times physical custody is shared 50/50 with both parents. There are certain situations in which this sharing of parental responsibilities is not supported by the Family Court. In cases of abuse or domestic violence, sole physical or legal custody may be awarded to one parent.

Also, taken into account are the personal wishes of the child in question. When making custody arrangements, a family court may consider the opinion of a mature child. Although there is no set age at which a child is considered mature and old enough to offer this opinion, a judge may choose to consider a child’s wishes if he or she believes the child is capable of an independent opinion.

It is important for parents to understand that while Colorado allows the Family Court to take a child’s wishes into consideration when awarding custody; ultimately it is the family court’s decision where the child will live. And experienced attorney may be able to provide parents with the additional support they need when requesting child custody.

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