Can My Child Decide What Parenting Time They Want With the Other Party?

he attorneys at Knies, Helland & McPherson Law are often asked this question, and unsurprisingly, the answer is complex. Child and mother holding hands

When determining a parenting time schedule for minor children, the Colorado courts examines a host of different factors found in C.R.S. 14-10-124, Colorado’s Best Interest of the Child statute.

Under this statute, one of the factors allows the courts to consider the children’s preferences about parenting time, provided that the children are sufficiently mature to make reasoned and independent decisions about parenting time.   So, it really depends on if the children are mature enough to have input into this choice, and if the children are making this decision free from pressure by their parents.  The attorneys at KHM Law have seen the courts take into account children’s opinions over a large range of ages.

However, a new Colorado case set an upper-bound on how old the children have to be in order to decide whether they need to follow parenting orders as part of a divorce or custody case.   In the casea In re Marriage of Tibbetts, the Colorado appellate court ruled that once a child turns 18, he or she can make decisions, and neither parent can force an 18-year—old to comply with the parenting time orders in a divorce or custody case.  In re Marriage of Tibbetts, 2018 COA 143 (Colo. App., August 9, 2018).

In short, when the children turn 18, they conclusively get to decide whether or not to follow any parenting orders.   Up until that point, though, the courts may or may not consider their opinions on parenting time. It just depends on the kid!

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