In the State of Colorado, there is no statute that references a specific age when a child can determine the parent with whom they wish to live. A parent can file a motion with the Court requesting that a child's wishes be considered by the Court, but there is no guarantee the Judge will rule in favor of the child's request. To what extent the Court takes the child's wishes into consideration completely depends on the child' maturity, the reasonableness of the request, and to what extent the Court perceives the child's wishes as his own and not a request that has been influenced by the parent. When issues regarding parenting time are under consideration, the Court seeks to rule in regard to what the Court considers to be the best interests of the child.
A child's preferences regarding parenting time can be considered by the parents or the significant adults in the child's life and become part of the parenting schedule if the decision makers are in agreement with the child about his or her future living arrangements. A joint agreement between the parents is the most common way to create a parenting plan, but when parents cannot agree, the courts will rule under the best interests of the child statute.
Does the Court Consider the Child's Wishes?
When the parents cannot agree on a parenting schedule, the issue is moved to domestic court, where the living arrangements for the child are decided by the judge. In cases where a child has expressed his or her wishes regarding parenting time, the judge is not required to interview the child, but may choose to consider the child's preferences. A child's request may be of greater interest to the court if the judge perceives the child to be mature enough to understand his or her current circumstances, but even then, many judges and child psychologists believe that children should not be asked choose between their parents. To what extent the Colorado Court takes the wishes of the child into consideration will wholly depend on the child's maturity, the reasonableness of the child's request, and to what extent the court perceives the child's wishes as his own and not a request that has been influenced by the parent. The judge's potential disregard for a child's wishes is more likely when the judge suspects that the child's request to reside with a particular parent was coerced by the child's mother or father. In such cases, the judge may request a psychological evaluation of the child to determine his or her needs. Although a child's wishes regarding parenting time may not be addressed under Colorado law, the Colorado courts ruling will be based on the best interests of the child statute.