Process of a Colorado Child Custody Case

Child Custody

Either parent or the child can file a child custody cases in Colorado if they are over 18. After filing, an agreement is reached to settle any disputes regarding visitation or support. If no agreement is reached, then a hearing will occur where both parents are present in front of a judge to determine which parent will have primary physical custody and how much time each parent will receive with the child.

Incidents that may come up during this process include but are not limited to parental relocation, domestic violence between parents, drug abuse by one or both parents, history of violent behavior toward anyone, including animals or children, the refusal of a parent to follow court orders, inability for one or both parents to care for the child due to financial reasons, or anything else that can be cited as parental unfitness.

Issues Between the Parents

If there are any personal issues between the parents, they will need to work them out themselves before heading to court. Once both parties oppose each other in court about child custody, it is up to the judge’s discretion to proceed with the case based on Colorado state laws. Suppose one parent wants primary physical custody and the other wants shared legal custody. In that case, the judge may award joint physical custody, which means that both parents have equal time with their children even though only one party has physical possession of the child at all times.

Suppose neither parent receives either type of primary custody. In that case, they will receive “standard visitation,” where the non-custodial parent has rights to visitation every other weekend and half of the holidays. However, standard visitation can be changed if one parent is deemed unfit.

Every case is different, and the final result of the custody hearing depends on many factors, including but not limited to the age and maturity level of the child, if the parents live in the same area, their ability to work together, co-parenting, or any history of substance abuse or violence by either party.

Emancipation Laws Are Different in Colorado

In Colorado, the emancipation age is 19, so a child over this age will decide where they wish to live as long as that living situation is legal, such as with a spouse or joining the military. If that’s not possible, then it’s up to the judge to decide what is best for the child since they are no longer under their parents’ legal custody.

Emancipation is often used in child custody cases where one parent has primary physical custody or sole custody. In contrast, the other party has standard visitation if emancipation can benefit them by giving them more time with their child each week. The judge may decide that the child should be emancipated based on their reasoning, or it could be done by agreement between both parties.

Once a child is emancipated, they are no longer part of any legal contract made by either parent. This means that financial support for college will come from the child, not the parents since they are now considered adults. However, if emancipation occurs before high school graduation, then financial support may remain at its current levels until high school graduation or age 19, whichever comes first.

If emancipation occurs before high school graduation, then the child must still be in contact with their parents to show that they are making progress in their grades and personal life, since it is up to the judge whether or not emancipation will be granted after they turn 18 until they graduate. If they are given emancipation for this reason, then they will most likely receive support from one parent instead of both.

Emancipation affects custody by allowing a child over 18 to choose where they wish to live. A child may also decide whether or not to continue receiving financial support after being emancipated, even though this can affect them when applying for college later on down the road.

What Effects the Status of Emancipation of a Teenager Between 18 and 19?

When a child turns 18, they are no longer dependent on their parents. They can make decisions for themselves and are legally considered adults. However, in Colorado, the emancipation age is 19, so a child over this age will only be able to live independently if it’s shown that they’re mature enough to do so. Proving it can be difficult due to the strict laws.

A child that has chosen to leave home before graduating from high school can receive financial support from their parents through the emancipation process if the judge decides that both parents are fit enough financially to continue providing help. Financial support includes money for food, rent, and education, but there is usually an end date to this support whether or not the child has graduated high school. Usually, everything ends on the child’s 19th birthday. 

For children to become emancipated in Colorado, they must first petition the courts. Once the court has been petitioned successfully and permission for emancipation has been granted due to hardship or other exceptional cases, it can take up to 6 months to complete the process before emancipation is official ( Youth Law Center). If both parents cannot be contacted about emancipation, it can take up to 9 months.

Because child labor laws state that children must be given a chance through education before working full-time jobs (US Department of Labor), this means that every child in America has an opportunity to learn about how they should conduct themselves when voting. 18-year-olds are not considered adults by law enforcement and the courts, despite being able to work full-time jobs, get married without their parents’ permission, or sign contracts with certain companies because they cannot vote. Due to these reasons stated and the fact that 18-year-olds cannot drink until they are 21, it limits what an adult can do and is therefore not considered an adult by law enforcement.