In Colorado, all court decisions on child custody arrangements must focus on one issue to the exclusion of essentially everything else. The best interest of the child guides these decisions.

Even if there were rational arguments against or for following this rule, U.S. states have largely set those aside by writing the rule very clearly into state statutes. Parents may object, but the judge can point to the law. The child comes first.

Still, state rules vary in what judges must consider when deciding exactly what is and is not in a child’s best interest.

State law supplies a list for considering a child’s interest

When it comes to parenting time, Colorado law says, “the court shall consider all relevant factors.” Of course, the statutes are not able to list every possible factor, but they do supply an 11-item list that such factors include, and the court can consider others.

The wishes of the parents do matter, in a way

Colorado courts do consider the attitudes of the parents and what they want to happen, but only to the extent that those attitudes may affect the child’s interests. A parent who does not want parenting may get their wish if it is in the child’s best interest.

The kind of interactions the child has with the parent or anybody else in the picture. One parent encouraging the child’s relationship with the other parent will also be on the judge’s mind when assigning parenting time.

Maturity, not age, decides the child’s role in decisions

States differ in how much, and under what conditions, the child’s opinion of their own best interest matters to the court.

For example, in Georgia, the child’s preferences take on considerable power once they reach the age of 14. In Tennessee, at the age of 12, a child’s opinion begins to phase in as an interesting factor.

Colorado does not tie the child’s wishes to any age but instead to their maturity., The child’s preferences about parenting time matter “if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences.” The statute does not explain how to tell if they have reached that maturity.