When you mention that your boyfriend is trying to fight for his son, and you talk about custody, it is important to mention that in Colorado we refer to these issues as allocation of parental responsibilities and determination of parenting time. A parent may have joint decision-making with the other parent, with very little parenting time, or a parent may have equal parenting time and the other parent may have sole decision-making, either for all major decisions or in a particular category, such as medical or educational decisions. Colorado courts follow the guidance of our legislature that it is generally in the best interest of the children to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents.
In determining the allocation of PARENTING TIME for a particular child, the courts will look at the following criteria, which are set out in the state (C.R.S. 14-10-124):
(1) Wishes of each parent regarding parenting time;
(2) Wishes of the child, if he is mature enough to express sound, reasoned and independent preferences (this child is too young---but will be older one day);
(3) Interraction and relationship with the child and his parents, siblings and any other person who may signficantly affect the child's best interests (here the court will look at you, the grandmother, etc.);
(4) Child's adjustment to home, school/daycare and community;
(5) Mental and physical health of everyone involved (but disability alone is not a basis for denial of parenting time);
(6) Ability of each parent to foster love and affection between the child and the OTHER parent (careful, here!);
(7) Whether the past history of involvement with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support;
(8) How close the parties reside to one another;
(9) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect (credible evidence required);
(10) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse/partner abuse (credible evidence required); and
(11) most importantly, the ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
In allocating DECISION-MAKING responsibilities, the relevant factors are:
(1) Credible evidence of the abilities of a party to make joint decisions;
(2) The past pattern of involvement (see item 7 above);
(3) Whether involvement of both parties in decisions will promote contact between the child and both parents;
(4) Child abuse (see item 9 above);
(5) Spouse abuse (see item 10 above);
One of your more important questions was a concern about whether the court might hold it against your boyfriend that the two of you are cohabiting. The court will be very interested to hear whether the cohabitation has a positive or negative impact on the child. Generally, the court will be guided by the statute's direction that "the Court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect that party's relationship to the child." In this regard, the Court will be much more interested in indications that you and the child's father are offering a caring environment in which the child's needs are consistently met. Her mother's support for your position is also good, but realize that often when it comes to testimony in court, a mother may find it difficult to testify against her own child. So, other witnesses will be required, if you go to court.
Knowing that a court will almost certainly allocate some parenting time to each parent, rather than all or nothing at all, your boyfriend may be able to negotiate an agreement regarding parenting time with his son's mother. If that is done, your boyfriend will need to make sure a written parenting plan is filed with the court. An attorney or a mediator can help with a written parenting plan. A written proposed plan must be submitted to the court by each party, if there is a trial.
I hope this has been helpful.
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