Can a Father Win Sole Custody in Colorado?

Thirty years ago, mothers almost always ended up with custody of the children in a divorce. This wasn’t just the case here in Colorado, that was the case nationwide. But fast-forward to today, and a lot has changed. Fathers are now getting equal consideration in child custody cases. Why the shift?

One of the major reasons the family courts have changed their attitudes towards fathers is the number of women who are in the workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “There are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force,” and “Almost 47 percent of U.S. workers are women.”

“Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared to 11 percent in 1960,” reports the Department of Labor. What does this mean? It means that more married couples are dividing child raising responsibilities, and there are more stay-at-home fathers than ever before. This societal shift is also making it easier for dads to seek custody of their children.

When Fathers Want Sole Custody

The Colorado family courts recognize the importance of having both parents actively involved in their children’s lives. Therefore, if a mother and father are honest, hardworking and loving parents, it would be unrealistic for either parent to assume that a court would give them sole physical custody of their children and deny the other parent what’s called parenting time.

The Colorado Judicial Department defines “parenting time” as “the actual time the children spend with one or the other parent.” That being said, suppose a father wants to seek full custody of his children because he strongly believes the mother is an “unfit” parent. Is it possible for the court to award him physical custody of the children? Yes, it is possible.

In order for a father to win physical custody of his children, he would need to show the court that the children’s biological mother is incapable of caring for the children. Here are some examples of why a court may give custody to a father:

  • The mother is an alcoholic and refuses to get help.
  • The mother is addicted to drugs and refuses to get help.
  • The mother suffers from a mental illness and refuses to get treatment.
  • The mother is in jail or prison.
  • The mother engages in criminal activities.
  • The mother has physically abused the children.
  • The mother has neglected the children.
  • The mother won’t ensure the children attend school.
  • The mother allows unsavory individuals around her children, thereby placing the children in harm’s way. For example, the mother is dating a convicted child molester or a registered sex offender.
  • The mother cannot provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care for her children.

Not all mothers are good parents, and when a woman is unable to provide a safe, loving, and nurturing home for her children, it may be logical to award sole physical and legal custody to the children’s father.

However, this does not necessarily mean that the mother never sees her children. Instead, it could mean that she has what’s called supervised parenting time. In such cases, the mother’s visits with her children are supervised by either a mutually agreed upon person, or by a commercial provider.

Further reading: “Should a Parent Move Out Before the Divorce is Final?”

Need help with a child custody matter in Denver? Contact Jones Law Firm, PC for a free consultation. We’ll guide you every step of the way.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).