Parents who are contemplating divorce in Colorado frequently worry about what the change to their family circumstances will mean for their relationship with their children. For example, many people have heard stories about one parent trying to push the other out of the lives of their children.
Others may have reason to worry that their children will refuse to spend time with them. They may already have a strained relationship with their children because of typical teenage conflicts or the children blaming them for the current challenges that the family faces. Do minor children in Colorado have the right to refuse to spend time with one parent?
Children do not control the allocation of parenting time
When a judge looks at litigated family circumstances as they are dividing parental rights and responsibilities between the adults in a family, they have to consider a variety of different factors. Their main focus should always be on what would be in the best interests of the children.
With rare exceptions for scenarios involving abuse or extreme instability, the best outcome for children typically involves preserving a healthy relationship with both of their parents. Judges will look at the current family circumstances, including the current relationship that the adults have with the children and their schedules.
They can also consider the wishes of the children. Unlike some states, which have a set age for such matters, Colorado does not start considering a child’s wishes after a certain age. Instead, a judge will consider a child’s overall maturity and the reasoning behind their request when deciding how much weight to give a child’s preferences when making decisions about parenting time.
Even if a teenage daughter does not currently want to spend time with her father, a judge will likely still require her to do so. The other parent in such situations has an obligation to encourage the children to abide by the parenting plan and to see the other parent in accordance with the allocation of parenting time.
Parents who commit themselves to being present for their children and making the most of their time together can often heal a damaged relationship as the family adjusts to new co-parenting arrangements. Understanding what will influence a judge’s decisions regarding parental rights and responsibilities may help Colorado adults be better advocates for their relationships with their children.