For most married parents divorcing in Colorado, the outcome of custody proceedings will result in co-parenting, which is mutually shared allocation of parental rights and responsibilities between both spouses. In general, the courts prefer comprehensive co-parenting agreements to assigning parental rights to only one adult from the family.
Many people may want to push for full custody, not realizing that the courts typically only award it in specific circumstances. There are certain circumstances in which the best decision for you and your children is to ask the courts to assign primary custody to one parent, instead of shared custody via a co-parenting arrangement.
One parent is physically or emotionally abusive
The reason that the courts prefer shared custody stems from the mental health and social benefits that it offers the children. However, when one of the parents is abusive, the damage likely outweighs the potential benefits associated with shared custody.
Even if the children were not the targets of the abuse, if they routinely witness one parent abusing the other, it can have a deleterious effect on their mental health and socialization as they grow.
One parent has extreme addiction issues that aren't under control
Addiction is a seemingly lifelong disease. Although someone can go through recovery, they will always have an inclination toward addiction and substance abuse. The courts tend to be forgiving toward parents who get appropriate help and commit themselves to sobriety for the sake of their children.
On the other hand, the courts have little tolerance for unchecked substance abuse and addiction. Alcoholism, illegal drug abuse and even compulsive gambling can all be addictions that influence how the courts handle the custody of your children.
One parent has a very unstable life
In some families, one spouse keeps the family together while the other introduces chaos. During a divorce, the difference in lifestyles between parents can become increasingly evident. The unstable parent may have trouble securing a place to live. They could lose their job or may not even have had one prior to divorce.
Parenting requires both a stable location and income. If you can demonstrate to the Colorado family courts that your ex does not have the means to provide the basic necessities your children need for safety, the courts may consider this when dividing up parental rights and responsibilities. The parent with stability issues may receive only visitation or limited parental responsibilities until they change their lifestyle.
In most other circumstances, divorcing parents can expect to share the custody of their children. If you are confused or concerned about custody standards, sitting down to discuss your family situation with a Colorado attorney is a good next step.