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Do Colorado’s Child Custody Laws Still Favor Women?

Monday, 29 August 2011

blog-logoIf you’ve ever wondered how the equal rights movement has affected the decisions made by family court judges, all you need to do is talk to a Colorado divorce lawyer.  Child custody laws haven’t changed all that dramatically, but the decision rules used by judges have moved the needle ever so slightly in favor of dads.  One of the biggest changes to child custody laws has been to only consider what is in the “best interests of the children.”  While there is certainly nothing wrong with this line of thinking, it means that certain assumptions can no longer be made. 

In a recent article, “Four Reasons a Mother Could Lose Custody of Her Children,” recently posted on HelpforSingleMother.net, this point is reiterated.  In the article, it says that courts usually decide custody hearings based on the living situation that the judge believes is the best fit for the child, once again following the “best interests” standard.  This standard has replaced the “tender years doctrine” which was more inclined to choose the mother as the default custodial parent unless she was clearly unfit.  By giving fathers a level playing field and a better opportunity to win primary custody, the new child custody laws represent a significant shift for post-divorce families.

While it’s true that most Colorado courts still maintain a certain bias toward the mother, there remains the possibility for a woman to lose custody of her children.

Child endangerment can be a cause for denial of custodial rights when it can be proven in a court of law.  For example, if a mother emotionally or physically abuses her children, or knowingly puts them in a dangerous situation, she could lose custody.  Endangerment also includes a parent who tests positive for illegal drugs or who is known for habitual substance abuse.  In many cases, the court will award temporary custody to a relative or place the child in foster care until the mother can prove she is fit to be a full-time parent.

Another possible reason a mother could lose primary custody is because of a dramatic change in circumstances.  Any change that is significant enough to cause a court to rethink its custody decision may qualify here, including the mother’s decision to move to another state with the child.  A move may also represent a change in lifestyle or a child’s exposure to an unsafe environment.  For this reason, the non-custodial parent is given an opportunity to file an objection to the move, which could result in the loss of primary custody. 

Child custody laws differ from state to state, which can be very confusing for parents. A Colorado divorce lawyer can help you understand the way a judge will view your case.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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