In Colorado, child custody cases are guided by the best interest of the child. When determining parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, the courts consider various factors outlined in C.R.S. 14-10-124. One significant factor that can heavily influence custody outcomes is parental alienation, wherein one parent willfully interferes with the other parent’s relationship with the child. In this article, we will explore how parental alienation can impact child custody cases in Colorado, with reference to a real-life example.
Understanding the Best Interest of the Child Factors: Under C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(a), Colorado law requires the court to consider nine factors when determining parenting time:
- The parents’ wishes.
- The child’s wishes, if they are sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences.
- The relationship between the child and parents, siblings, and other influential individuals.
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community.
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved.
- The parties’ abilities to encourage love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent.
- The parties’ past involvement and commitment to the child.
- The geographical proximity of the parties.
- The ability of each party to prioritize the child’s needs above their own.
For decision-making responsibilities, three additional factors come into play (C.R.S. 14-10-124(1.5)(b)):
- The parties’ ability to cooperate and make joint decisions.
- The parties’ past involvement in making positive and nourishing decisions for the child.
- Whether joint decision-making would promote more contact between the child and each party.
The Impact of Parental Alienation: Colorado courts recognize that parental alienation harms the child’s well-being and healthy development. If a parent can provide evidence of parental alienation, the court is likely to find the custodial parent unfit and may modify custody arrangements accordingly. It is important to note that Colorado courts may not explicitly label the behavior as “parental alienation” but instead require expert confirmation of alienation without any doubt.
Real-life Example: One notable case involving parental alienation exemplifies the impact it can have on custody outcomes. A client represented by a Denver family law attorney experienced a prolonged legal battle spanning four years. Initially, the client only had every other weekend with his children. The mother consistently interfered with the father’s parenting time by filing restrictions and denying visitation when she saw fit.
Throughout the case, the attorney and their client gathered substantial evidence to demonstrate the mother’s failure to promote a healthy relationship between the children and their father. With the support of expert evaluations and multiple court hearings, they proved that parental alienation was occurring. Finally, at the end of the four-year ordeal, the court acknowledged the father’s claims, declared the custodial parent unfit, and awarded equal parenting time.
The Preference for Equal Parenting Time
Colorado courts tend to favor equal parenting time unless there are compelling reasons or evidence indicating that it is not in the child’s best interest. Parental alienation, when proven, can result in additional parenting time being awarded to the non-alienating parent to ensure a meaningful and nurturing relationship with the child. Although Colorado courts may not explicitly use the term “parental alienation,” they recognize the harmful effects of such behavior on children.
Parental alienation can significantly impact child custody cases in Colorado. Courts prioritize the best interest of the child and consider various factors when determining parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. If one parent willfully interferes with the other parent’s relationship with the child, proving parental alienation can lead to modifications in custody arrangements. While Colorado courts may not explicitly label it as parental alienation, they acknowledge the need for expert confirmation of such behavior. It is essential for parents and legal professionals to understand the implications of parental alienation and take appropriate legal measures to protect the well-being of the child involved.
About the Author:
Billie Jo L. Sowinski is a dedicated family law attorney in Denver, Colorado. With a strong commitment to guiding individuals through the complexities of family law, she provides compassionate support during life transitions. Specializing in marriage dissolutions, child custody, modifications, and adoptions, Billie Jo is known for actively listening to her clients, ensuring no detail goes unnoticed. She promotes fairness and active parental involvement while navigating legal obstacles. With a Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of South Dakota, Billie Jo brings expertise and empathy to her practice.