Getting divorced was never going to be as simple as you wanted it to be, but doing it with a 5-year-old child guaranteed it would get complex in a hurry. Now you and your spouse are heading to court to consider your parenting time arrangement and your parental rights.
What you have heard is that the court will try to focus on the child's best interests when creating a parenting plan or determining how to split the time with the kids between you and your ex. While you love your child and you want to put them first, you also do not know exactly what the court is going to consider. To help you understand the process and your role in it, here are a few things they may take into account:
- Routine changes that result in a negative impact on your child. For example, maybe your child has gone to one year of school and is about to start the second year. Is it a negative to set up a parenting plan that puts the child in a new school? If so, the court may try to find a solution that keeps them in the same school system. They don't want to change the child's routine.
- Anything they can do to maintain consistency. This is similar to the above, in that the court values consistency for the child. This can touch on issues like childcare routines, living arrangements, access to grandparents and much more. If at all possible, the court wants the child to consistently have a life that is as close as possible to what they enjoyed prior to the divorce.
- Your ability as a parent -- and your spouse's ability. The court must make sure that you both show evidence of basic parenting ability and that you can provide for and care for the child. They are not going to put the child into a home where they will be neglected, ignored, unhealthy or unsafe.
- Your child's wishes and age. When kids are young, the courts know that parenting is a bit more intense and hands-on, and they take that into account. When the kids get older, they may also ask the child what they want. While they may deny a child's request, they will consider it. For your 5-year-old, the child's wishes and requests probably will not factor in much at all, as they're considered too young.
These are just a few things that the court considers, and it's important to step back and really think about what you want, what your ex wants and what would be best for your child. When you all focus on the same outcome, things move smoothly. No matter how it plays out, make sure you understand your parental rights in Colorado.