Child Custody Lawyer in Denver
In Colorado, child custody is referred to as the “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” (APR). APR also includes the allocation of decision-making responsibilities with regard to the child. An APR action may be incorporated in proceedings for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or declaration of invalidity of the marriage, or it may be filed as an independent proceeding.
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In order to have standing, or the legal right to file, the individual filing for APR with the court must be either a parent, a person other than the parent if the child is not in the physical care of the parent, or a person who has had physical care of the child for at least six months prior to filing. The court may award custody of the children to a nonparent, however all parents of the child must be given notice of the proceeding and an opportunity to appear in court.
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Courts base all APR proceedings on the “best interest of the child” standard. Courts consider several factors when determining the best interests of the child including: the wishes of the child and the parents as to parenting time; the interactions and interrelationships between the child and the parents and/or siblings; the child’s adjustment to his home, school or community; the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; the ability of the parents to encourage love and contact between the child and the other parent; the past pattern of involvement of the parents with the child; the physical proximity of the parents; whether there has been domestic violence; and the ability of the parties to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
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The court may also consider other factors not listed above. However, the court is prohibited, in making a custody determination, from considering any conduct of a proposed custodian that does not impair the relationship between that person and the child. This means that, before the court may give consideration in its custody decision to certain conduct of the proposed custodian, there must be evidence to support the conclusion that the conduct in question adversely affects the child. The mere fact that a person may be living with another person in an unmarried state, or may be an alcoholic, a prostitute, a drug-user, or a criminal may not, by itself, be cited as the reason for depriving that person of custody of the child. However, if the court finds that parenting time by a party would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development, that party will not be afforded parenting time.