What many other states referred to as child custody or visitation, Colorado refers to as the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. This intentional change in language reflects an important aspect that influences all decisions regarding children in Colorado divorces.
The term "custody" implies ownership and places the focus on the parental side of the situation, while the phrase "allocation of parental rights and responsibilities" makes it clear that the focus in the situation is on the obligations each parent has to the child and the rights that come with the fulfillment of those obligations.
The courts usually favor shared parenting responsibilities
The Colorado courts always want to explore the best interests of the children involved when deciding how to split up the parental rights and responsibilities for a couple going through a divorce. Research on the impact of divorce and parental alienation has led most courts to consider shared parental responsibilities as the standard for divorce.
However, there are situations in which one spouse can point to behaviors on the part of the other parent as an indicator that they may not have the right temperament or adequate stability to fulfill their parental responsibilities.
Mental health issues can leave parents struggling
Whether the issue is depression that took hold due to issues in the marital relationship or pre-existing conditions, such as PTSD from military service, the symptoms of mental health issues can often prevent parents from providing adequate care for their children.
Mood swings, dissociative episodes and difficulty focusing on the needs of others are all common signs of mental health struggles that could directly impact a parent's ability to provide stability and support for their children.
While a parent struggling with mental health issues could potentially resolve those problems and later request a modification that allocates parental rights to them, if the symptoms indicate that a parent cannot manage the responsibilities that come with parenting time, visitation may be a better option than fully-shared parental rights.
A parent with an abusive past could harm the children
Abuse is one factor that can have a drastic impact and how the courts view a parent's relationship with the children and ability to care for them. Even if the abuse targeted their spouse, not their children, exposing their children to spousal violence could also have a negative impact on the children's mental health. More concerning is the potential for an abusive spouse to redirect their unmanaged anger at the children when their ex is no longer present to bear the burden of their fury.
Parents who can't manage their own addictions likely can't manage their children either
Addiction is not something that people should feel shame about. It is often the consequence of a combination of genetic predisposition and developmental trauma. While you can't control someone's tendency toward addiction, they can learn to manage their addiction and prevent it from impacting their life or the lives of their family members.
Regardless of whether this addiction is to an illegal drug, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or casual sex, addiction can interfere with someone's performance of their parental responsibilities. If you have documented evidence that your spouse struggles with addiction and is either experiencing a relapse or has not taken steps to control their addiction, the courts may reduce their allocated parental rights and responsibilities until your former spouse seeks treatment and gains control over their situation.
If you have questions about your child custody or family matter, reach out to the attorneys at Law Office of Alexandra White, PC by calling (303) 647-4245.