Changing a family dynamic is incredibly challenging – for both children and their parents. However, there are circumstances when families must evolve, including times when parents divorce or separate. The need to sort out separate living arrangements will arise regardless of whether the parents were ever married to each other or not.
Shifting the family living arrangements easily leads to significant tension between parents. Parents may even be tempted to involve their children in the proceedings. But should that happen?
Colorado’s stance on children and court
Most parents won’t initially want to involve their children in custody or divorce proceedings due to the possible emotional effects it may have on the children. However, some parents may try to involve their child by having the kid write a letter to a judge about their interests or preferences for a custody agreement. As well some strong willed children may demand information about the dispute between their parents and expect to voice opinions.
Will the judge even listen to the child?
In Colorado kids under the age of 18 do NOT get to choose where they live or how they divide their time between parents.
In Colorado, judges won’t read letters from children because the court wants to keep the kids out of the middle of a nasty conflict. The court usually says that allowing children to send letters or attend court proceedings may generate more conflict between the parents and the child.
As a parent, it’s critical to make sure that your child doesn’t feel like they have to choose between mom and dad. Your best strategy is to work with the other parent and the other professionals in the case to find the right solution for the children.
When parents just can’t agree, the court may appoint specialized professionals to interview the child and others about their perspective, and then report back to the court. But the child never makes the decision, and the child’s views will never be the only factor that is considered. It will always come down to the court and its opinion on what’s best for your family.
It’s critical to know that you may always work with a legal professional to explore options for your parenting time and how to approach your specific situation because every family will be slightly different.