In the “best interest of the child” statute, C.R.S. 14-10-124, the Colorado legislature has declared:
“While co-parenting is not appropriate in all circumstances following dissolution of marriage or legal separation, the general assembly finds and declares that, in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.”
The Colorado courts use the factors in this statute to determine a parenting schedule that is in the child’s best interest.
There is nothing in the “best interest of the child” statute that states that there is preference for mothers over fathers, or vice versa. So in theory, the Colorado courts are gender neutral when applying the statute to determining parenting time.
However, the “best interests of the child” statute contains several factors that sometimes “swing” towards mothers, particularly in a more stereotypical traditional home. In these stereotypical traditional households, it is typical for fathers to work outside of the home and be the sole provider for the family, while mothers stay-at-home and care for the children and household. When a separation occurs for a family like this, several “best interest” factors are implicated that may lead to mothers having more parenting time.
– Some factors that would cause a judge to lean in favor of mothers include; their typical role as primary care-giver, their need to make day-to-day decisions about the kids without Father present, their personal understanding of each child’s daily routine, the one-on-one bonding time throughout the day, and the general maternal instinct that comes with being a woman and having a child.
The Colorado courts are increasingly seeing families that do not fit into the stereotypical “traditional” mold. For example, households wherein mother’s work outside of the home and Fathers take on the role of caregiver could see the courts move in favor of allotting more time to the father. In these cases, mothers may not necessarily have a “leg up”, because it would be in the best interest of the children to reside primarily with the parent more adept to providing their care.
The “best interest of the child” statute requires an in depth look into each family to best determine the most optimal outcome for the children. The assumption that mothers necessarily have the advantage in a custody determination is not always the case in Colorado. Make sure that you and your attorney educate the courts on the family structure, as well as present evidence on all of the best interest factors.