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Sole custody: When is it appropriate?

Many courts are starting to embrace the idea that it is best for a child in Colorado to have frequent contact with both parents, and for both parents to be involved in raising the child. However, sometimes there are circumstances where granting one parent sole custody is warranted. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2011, more than 28 percent of all children lived with only one biological parent.

According to the Denver Bar Association, while some parents may file for sole custody (known in Colorado as primary parental responsibility) out of spite, or because they think it will be emotionally difficult for their child to be away from them, others do so out of a real fear for their child's health and safety. Because judges see many false claims in court, it is often harder for parents with legitimate claims to gain sole custody.

Sole custody is generally deemed appropriate if one parent is not able to maintain a lifestyle that is conducive to parenting, the child is being abused or neglected in that parent's care, or that parent is mentally unfit to provide proper care. If parents suspect that their child is in danger of being neglected while under the supervision of the other parent, they should prepare evidence to present in court to support a claim for sole custody.

Even if a parent is successful in being granted sole custody, a judge may still grant some form of visitation to the other parent. If necessary, supervised visitation may be ordered. Ultimately, the court will make its decision based on what it is in the child's best interest.


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