September 19, 2023
Child custody in Colorado and around the United States is a complicated matter. If a domestic violence charge enters the picture against one parent, then that can make things even more complex. However, in every case involving child custody, the judge will overwhelmingly evaluate one factor: What is in the best interest of the child involved?
The truth is that any history of domestic violence or pending charges can make things a lot more difficult for the accused in a child custody battle. Here’s what you need to know about what constitutes domestic violence in Colorado and how it can impact a child custody case now or down the road.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
In Colorado, domestic violence is considered a pattern of behavior against a family or another with whom you have an intimate relationship. It is behavior designed to exert power or control over another person.
The term “intimate relationship” doesn’t simply cover those with whom a person is romantically linked. Intimate relationships can include siblings, roommates, and even between parents and their children.
The form domestic violence often takes includes:
- Emotional abuse, such as making a person live in fear or belittling them
- Verbal abuse, such as shouting or calling names
- Economic abuse, such as controlling money or stealing from them
- Psychological abuse, such as intimidation or threatening them with violence
Victims of the above acts, including the parent of your children and the children themselves, can lead to a protective order being filed against you, which will prohibit contacting them or even coming within a certain distance. As you can see, that would greatly impact the custody that you may be fighting for.
How Courts Determine Child Custody
There are a number of factors considered by the judge when determining custody in a divorce proceeding. In situations where the parents can’t agree on a custody arrangement, the judge will try to decide which home will be the most beneficial to the child by evaluating these factors:
- How the parent can meet the child’s needs
- How well the parent can anticipate the needs of the child
- Whether or not the parent has abused or neglected the child
- How far apart the homes of the two parents are
- How well each parent can encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents and the child
- How the child can adjust to the home, community, and school
- The relationship the child has with each parent, as well as other people of significance in their life
- What each parent wants
- Any other factors the court views as relevant
Domestic Violence in Child Custody
Aside from the above factors, the court also looks at any child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence claims. They do require credible evidence to support accusations since it’s not unheard of for some parties to make false claims in order to bolster the case against the other parent. The court will examine:
- Any relevant medical records
- Reports from police or other official agencies
- Social service agencies involved
Domestic violence accusations or charges in the past, as well as convictions, can impact where the child spends the most time – as well as the ability of the parents to share decisions about how to raise the child. If coercion or bullying is used by one parent, then the judge will not allow it.
Colorado law does not consider it to be in the best interest of the child to allocate mutual decisions between parents if domestic violence has occurred. The only way the court will grant shared decision-making is if they are confident that the decisions can be reached free of physical/verbal abuse or danger to anyone involved.
What If There are False Allegations?
If you are the victim of false domestic violence allegations, then work with an experienced attorney. They can help show the court how the allegations against you are untrue by gathering the evidence needed to support your claim. Chances are, the prosecution will have a hard time convicting you, because they simply won’t have sufficient evidence to do so. Still, an attorney can help guide you through the process and provide immeasurable support.
Domestic violence allegations are taken very seriously by Colorado courts. Don’t let an accusation such as this deprive you of the joys of parenting your child. Make sure to fight back and work with an attorney to formulate the best defense strategy possible. Pave the road to an equal share of parenting time with your child.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.