About Child Custody and Parental Responsibilities
In any family law case involving children, the issue of child custody will have to be addressed. You may hear lawyers, parents, and even judges referring to this type of child care decision process as “child custody” or “visitation.” However, Colorado law no longer refers to it as such, but rather “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.” This is divided into two parts: parenting time and decision-making responsibility.
If you are involved in a disputed child custody case or going through a divorce, it is important to understand that courts have significant discretion when making determinations about the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. For this reason, it is important for you to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. To start discussing your case with an attorney, call The Gasper Law Group today.
How is Parenting Time Determined in Colorado?
Parenting time refers to the actual time that parents spend with their children. When making decisions about how parenting time will be allocated between parents, courts look to the best interests of the child. Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 14-10-124, a court will consider the following factors when determining the best interests of the child for the purposes of allocating parenting time:
- The wishes of the parents
- If the child is mature enough to express independent and reasonable preferences, his or her wishes
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her siblings, parents, and anyone else that may significantly affect the child’s best interests
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, community, and school
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved, except that a disability cannot be used by itself to limit or deny parenting time
- The willingness of both parties to keep things amicable and encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; ; except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor
- Whether the way in which the parties have been involved with the child in the past reflects a system of values, mutual support, and the commitment of time
- How close the parties involved with the case live from one another as this related to the practical issues of shared parenting time
- Whether each party can prioritize the child’s needs over his or her own needs
How is Decision-Making Determined in Colorado?
Courts also consider the best interests of the child when making determinations about how to allocate decision-making responsibilities between parents. Decision-making responsibility refers to a parent’s right to make major decisions regarding medical treatment, religion, education, and extracurricular activities. In determining the best interests of the child with respect to decision-making responsibilities, a judge will consider the same factors as when making decisions about parenting time, as well as the following:
- The ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly
- The pattern of involvement of the parties with the child in the past, and whether or not it reflects an ability to make decisions that will provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child
- Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on a number of issues will promote continuing contact between the child and each of the parents
A history of domestic violence or child abuse carries additional and special considerations for the court when it comes to decision making authority. If there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse in your case, you should discuss the matter with your attorney.
Call The Gasper Law Group to Speak with a Colorado Springs Child Custody Attorney Today
Disputes regarding the allocation of parental responsibility and visitation can be difficult to resolve and courts have significant discretion in making determinations about it. For this reason, it is extremely important for parents who are involved in a divorce in which custody is contested to retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
For a free consultation with a Colorado Springs family law attorney, contact us today at (866) 203-6973 or (719) 227-7779.