If you already have a Parenting Plan (child custody agreement) in place following the separation of you and the other parent, to modify it, you will need to show the courts that there has been a change of circumstances and that a modification of the Plan is in the children's best interests.
Things change all the time: Children grow older and they have varying needs. Parents change too, and it may be that your work schedule means that you are now able to spend more quality time with your kids.
Whatever has changed, you'll likely still need to go through the court process to successfully modify your child custody arrangement. If you have found yourself in a dispute with the other parent on what's best for your children, you may find it comforting to know that, in Colorado, there are statutes in place that set standards for what is in the best interests of the child.
The courts will need to consider the following factors when deciding what is best for your child.
- The parent's wishes: The courts would never give one parent full custody if they do not want this. Similarly, they will try to give parenting time to both parents if both parents want custody.
- The child's wishes: If the child is considered to be sufficiently mature and can express independent preferences, their wishes may also be considered.
- The physical and mental health of everyone involved: If one parent has a physical disability to the point that it affects the ability to adequately care for their child, custody may be awarded to the other parent. Similarly, mental illness and addiction is always a factor in child custody cases.
- Each parties' abilities to share and encourage love and affection: The courts want to see that parents are able to provide their children with love and affection, since this is crucial for the healthy development of a child.
If you are dissatisfied with the current child custody arrangement, take action to file for a modification so that you're able to have a better relationship with your child.