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Balancing a Child's Best Interests and Parent's Rights in Child Custody


One of the most common phrases we hear from parents is “I just want what is best for my kids.” This saying, while true, can become a difficult balancing act when parents are at odds with each other. Acting in the best interests of the child can become even more blurred when dealing with child custody.

In Colorado child custody matters, parents generally have some basic rights which include the right to physically spend time with their child and the right to make major decisions about the child’s health, education, and religious upbringing. However, the allocation of parenting responsibilities and parenting time must be balanced with the child’s best interest. A child’s best interest is generally determined on a case-by-case basis through a judicial officer’s analysis of a list of factors that have been codified by statute.

While courts generally promote a child’s relationship with both parents, a parent’s rights may be limited based on a parent’s ability to maintain legal responsibilities for their children. Ultimately, Colorado law requires that a child’s physical and emotional safety be treated as paramount. The following constitutes some of the reasons a court may limit a parent’s parenting time or decision-making abilities:

1. Substance Abuse Issues

  • Alcohol;
  • Marijuana;
  • Abuse of prescription medicine;
  • Illegal drugs

2. Domestic Violence/sexual assault

  • Towards the other parent;
  • Towards the child

3. Refusal to Communicate

  • Refusal to inform the other parent of medical care appointments;
  • Refusal to inform the other parent of educational updates and decision-making;
  • Refusal to make major joint-decisions together;
  • Refusal to respond to inquiries regarding the child’s needs and upbringing

4. Refusal to Co-Parent

  • Refusal to allow the other parent to attend medical care appointments;
  • Refusal to agree to extracurricular activities for the child without good reason
  • Refusal to coordinate with regard to the child’s birthday, family relations, and socialization;
  • Refusal to make the child available for parenting time with the other parent;
  • Refusal to make the child available for FaceTime and phone communications

5. Refusal to Promote a Relationship with the Other Parent

  • Discussing custody court proceedings with the child;
  • Discussing with the child issues between the parents;
  • Speaking negatively about the other parent;
  • Speaking negatively about the child’s half or step siblings;
  • Refusal to promote the sharing of love, affection, and contact with the other parent

6. Refusal to Allow the Child to Receive Necessary Medical and Mental Health Treatment

  • Refusal for the child to be seen by a physician;
  • Refusal for the child to receive recommended medical care in accordance with a diagnosis;
  • Refusal for the child to attend therapy, where therapy has been recommended for the child and the child is shown to be struggling

7. Refusal of a Parent to Place the Needs of the Child Ahead of Their Own

  • A parent attempting to obtain the majority of the parenting time to lessen their child support obligation;
  • A parent refusing to co-parent due to their dislike of the other parent;
  • A parent refusing to be flexible with the parenting time arrangements so that the child has adequate supervision, transportation, and care

As much as a parent has certain rights, parenting and raising a child is very much a privilege. The courts tend to take the above issues very seriously and will certainly limit a parent’s rights when they are contrary to a child’s best interests. While co-parenting relationships can be difficult to navigate and oftentimes frustrating, putting your child’s interests before your own will allow your child to thrive as they develop and will help keep the court from making crucial decisions related to raising your child.

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