State Laws and Legislation

Colorado Custody and Visitation Law

Courts typically will not consider a parent’s sexual orientation or gender identity in custody and visitation determinations unless it is shown to adversely affect or harm the children. Courts will allow a former same-sex partner (with no legal or biological relationship to the children) to petition for parental responsibilities.

Custody and Visitation for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Parents
Colorado courts typically will not consider a parent’s sexual orientation in custody and visitation determinations unless it is shown to adversely affect or harm the children.

Colorado law states: “The factors that a court should look at when determining the best interests of the child when making custody and visitation decisions include: (I) The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time; (II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule; (III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests; (IV) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community; (V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time; (VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact between the child and the other party; (VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support; (VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; (IX) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect … which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (X) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, … which factor shall be supported by credible evidence; (XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.”

The law also outlines what circumstances warrant a court making a change in the original custody. Neither a parent’s sexual orientation nor gender identity is grounds for a change.

In one 2001 case, In the Marriage of Dorworth, the father identified as bisexual and was a member of a church “which has a congregation with a gay orientation.” At trial, the court ruled that he could not have overnight guests or take his daughter to his church when he was exercising his parenting time with her. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed this decision. The appeals court affirmed that “a court should not restrict a parent’s parenting time rights unless it finds that the parenting time would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.”

Updated: Mon, October 17, 2005 - 11:00:52