Divorces are complex. Each one is different, but they each incorporate various elements that must be settled before the divorce can be finalized. One common issue is child custody.
Unlike other states, Colorado does not recognize sole custody or joint custody. Instead, the state uses the term “parental responsibility,” which includes major decision-making and portioning out of parenting time. Decision-making authority and your entitlement to parenting time will be shared in most cases but sometimes can be held solely by one party. When the parents share decision-making equally, it is considered joint decision-making.
When parents have shared parenting time, it means they share the physical and financial responsibility of everyday caretaking responsibilities. This includes providing daily essentials, such as food and clothing. It also includes sharing the responsibility for parenting time exchanges.
When one parent is able to make all major decisions regarding education, religion, medical care, and extracurricular activities regarding the child without having to consult with the other parent, then they have sole decision-making responsibility. When the parents share the responsibility for those decisions, then the parents are said to have joint decision-making responsibility.
The courts will decide on parenting time decisions in the final divorce decree. Generally, it is our goal at Tanis McGonegal Family law to assist families in working together to agree on all aspects of the separation/divorce to avoid the uncertainty of leaving these decisions in the hands of the Court. This includes financial agreements and parenting agreements, known as the Parenting Plan. We are always focused on helping families make these decisions in the best interests of the child.
What the Law Says
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-124 states that, in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of the child (and the parents) to continue frequent contact between each parent and the children after the parents have divorced. Parents are encouraged to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing as well as encourage love and contact between the children and the parents. While co-parenting is typically the norm, it is not always appropriate. It will depend on the circumstances involved, such as child abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.
The law looks at the best interests of the child. This standard looks at various factors, such as the child’s health, safety, developmental needs, and emotional needs. It also looks at the wishes of the parent and even the child (if mature enough to have a parental preference).
The courts are not allowed to favor the mother over the father. There should be no bias when determining parenting time.
Contact Us Today
Child custody is an emotional issue. Most parents want to make sure their children get through the divorce with minimal stress, and this often means ensuring kids have access to both parents.
The experienced lawyers at Tanis McGonegal Family Law, P.C. can help you handle all divorce issues, including child custody. We will help you get the best results possible. Call (303) 465-4605 or fill out the online form to schedule a consultation with our Colorado divorce lawyers today.