I want to discuss with you what can motivate a child to switch homes as his primary residence, and at what age in Colorado does a child have a voice. There’re different ways that a child of a certain age can have a voice in a custody case or in their parents’ divorce. Most of our judges do not allow children to come to court and testify in their parents’ divorce or custody case.
Courts are very sensitive to protecting children from the conflict between their parents in their divorce or their custody case, but there are some exceptions where a child’s voice can be part of the legal process. One of the ways is when a parenting expert is allowed in these kinds of cases. A parenting expert such as a Doctor of Psychology will normally interview the children in a custody case and interview the parents, and then file a written report regarding that interview and make recommendations that are very specific as to the wishes of the children under certain circumstances.
The law in Colorado says that the children who wish to make statements regarding what they would like to see the need to have a certain level of maturity. That is, they need to be of a certain age, they need to be intelligent and able to express themselves with a well-reasoned thought about what they have seen and what they would like to see happen.When a psychologist is appointed in a custody case or a divorce case involving children and a report is written, the input of the children is part of that report. Another way that this can happen, and it’s a very rare phenomenon, is where children may be interviewed by a judge. There is a law in Colorado that permits an attorney or a party to file a motion to request that a judge interviews a child. I’ve had several cases where this has happened, where the child has been a teenager or an adolescent and the court can take the child into chambers, or take both children as I had in one case, and interview the children one-to-one and find out what’s really going on, and then report back to the parents as to what the children’s wishes are.
It’s always important to talk to a lawyer who is well-qualified and knows the laws in Colorado as to what kind of input and at what age a child’s input may be considered. Keep in mind that in Colorado’s law, there is nothing specific that states that a child at a certain age will have a say as to where that child lives or what kind of parenting time that child would prefer.