Understanding Teen Involvement in Denver Child Custody Terms
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted August 23, 2023
In matters of child custody, the age of the child contributes significantly to how decisions are made on their behalf. With young children, it is often recommended that parents follow a co-parenting structure by splitting custody and parenting time based on family conditions. With older children and teens, however, the child’s preference may play a major role.
Teens may ask to live with one parent over the other. A teen may ask to see a parent more or less often. Teens can request that custody terms be structured in a certain way to allow for the life they hope to lead between parents. As a divorcing parent, you may be wondering what Colorado family law has to say on teen involvement in child custody agreements.
At Split Simple, we handle Denver divorce mediation and build child custody agreements every day. We can answer these questions and help you build a custody agreement based on Colorado family law and the unique needs of your family.
Can Teens Make Their Own Decisions About Child Custody in Colorado?
Yes. In Denver Family Law courts, teens who are considered mature enough to understand the proceedings will be listened to if they have custody preferences. Of course, a teen’s preferences won’t be able to fully dictate custody terms, but strong reasoning on who to live with or how often to see a parent will be seriously considered when building the child custody agreement.
At What Age Can Children in Colorado Be Involved in Child Custody Decisions?
There is no specific age in Colorado or Denver family law dictating when a child or teen is old enough for their custody preferences to be considered. Instead, a judge or authority will weigh whether the teen has enough maturity and understanding that their decisions carry the weight of true preference and well-reasoned arguments.
That said, precedent suggests that teenagers of 14 years and older are typically considered mature enough to participate in child custody decisions. Children aged 12 and over may be asked about their custody preferences, which will be considered with some weight. Particularly if the child has strong reasoning or strong emotion behind their preference and their choice appears reasonable in terms of parenting connection and ability.
Can Teens Choose Which Parent to Live With in Colorado?
Teens over the age of 16 are typically granted the ability to choose which parent to live with, unless there is a strong reason to dictate otherwise. Colorado family law has made a pattern of honoring a child’s choice of who to live with, with an increasing strength of preference as the child progresses from 12 to 16.
After the age of 16, teenagers gain a strong legal ground to choose which parent to live with, and may take steps toward emancipation should they choose to live with neither parent and start supporting themselves.
How are a Child or Teen’s Wishes Expressed in a Denver Divorce Proceeding?
There are several methods by which a minor’s custody preferences can become known and taken into account. The child or teen may be interviewed by a custody evaluator, a third-party mental health professional, or a child may even have their own attorney. In some cases, a judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child.
If you go through a court divorce, Colorado law requires that a minor’s preferences be heard in the judge’s chambers instead of in the courtroom. This reduces the pressure on children or teens and allows them to speak more freely. Judges will typically keep questions to a minimum and try to help the child express themselves without feeling harassed or embarrassed.
What is the Safest Way to Involve a Teen in Denver Child Custody Discussions?
In most cases, Denver divorce mediation is the safest way to involve minors in child custody agreement discussions because it is a private, non-threatening environment in which the mediator is responsible for keeping everything moving in a positive light.
Denver divorce mediation, unlike a court divorce, is based in the principles of building an agreement that is the most beneficial for everyone -leaving both parents financially stable and creating a co-parenting system that fully supports children shared between the divorcing spouses. In this environment, teens and even younger children can safely be heard in the privacy and comfort of a conference room where everyone is trying their best to reach the best outcome.
How Does Divorce Mediation Handle Teen or Child Custody Preferences?
When building a Denver child custody agreement, your mediator may ask the preferences of your children. Your children will also have an opportunity to attend one mediation meeting or meet via remote video to share their preferences.
In a quiet and polite environment, the mediator can then ask any children or teens about their preferences, the reasoning behind those preferences, and then help to build a child custody agreement that honors the needs of everyone involved.
If a teen wants to have a long discussion, they can request a specific mediation session in which their personal concerns are expressed and options are explored to meet their needs – whether these refer to parental preference or just maintaining a rigorous extracurricular schedule between parental households.
Can We Build a Custom Child Custody Agreement through Divorce Mediation?
Yes. Customized child custody agreements are one of the things Denver divorce mediators do best. A divorce mediator is more flexible than a courtroom when it comes to building a unique custody arrangement that works for your family. This can be based on parental availability, child custody preferences, and the unique scheduling and future plans that teens must consider as well.
We can help you build a child custody plan to share 50/50 custody, adapt to a parent who travels, rebuild parental bonds, or enable a teen to attend the schools and groups that will create a foundation to start their first career as young adults among many other possible variations. The final custody agreement will ultimately comply with Denver family law, while providing for the specific needs and preferences within your split family.
Split Simple Makes Divorcing a Simple Family Matter
In families with teenagers, divorce involves more than just two separating adults: it’s a family matter. At Split Simple, we understand that. If your teen wants to be involved in their custody decisions and has good reasons for their choices, we can make sure their views are heard and considered, while also making sure the final custody agreement provides the structure and support that everyone needs to thrive. Contact Split Simple today to discuss your customized Denver divorce and child custody agreement.
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