Child custody and decision-making responsibility in Colorado

Colorado parents will undoubtedly be concerned about their children and their well-being in the event of a divorce. Decision-making responsibility is a fundamental factor in the case and should be understood from the beginning. The courts will take very seriously the allocation of decision-making responsibility. This is to serve the child’s best interests and to keep a close eye on the parents’ rights to have a foundational role during the child’s formative years.

Based on state law, the court will base its decision on the previously mentioned child’s best interests. Issues that will be a factor in its determination are many, but it will focus on the possibility that child abuse, neglect or domestic violence has taken place. This could be a danger to the child and must be addressed. There are myriad factors that the court uses when deciding on decision-making responsibility. If the parties show they can make joint decisions without rancor, then the court will take that into account. Cooperation is key where the child is concerned. Also important is the parents’ ability to give the necessary commitment – in time, instilling values and providing support – that will be needed for the child.

Many parents in contentious cases are prone to referencing personal conduct in trying to gain an advantage. The court will not consider these issues unless it directly impacts the child. The court does not enter the case with a presumption that one party is a better candidate for decision-making responsibility than the other. In other words, the mother might be perceived by the public in general as having a better chance at being given decision-making responsibility, but gender is irrelevant to the court’s decision.

When there is an order to allocate parental responsibilities, the sides are encouraged to give the court a proposal for parenting time. If the parents do not do so or the plan submitted is not deemed appropriate, the court will formulate a parenting plan and decision-making responsibilities. Included in the parenting plan may be the specific decision-making responsibilities; a schedule in which the child will spend time with each parent; how the custody exchange is made; how communication will be facilitated when the child is with a parent and will speak to the other; and any issue the court finds to be relevant and in the child’s best interests.

It is important to note that many people still use the term “child custody”. Its basic definition is applicable. Under the law, however, the current term is “parental responsibilities”. When facing a divorce and trying to come to an agreement regarding parental responsibilities and all that is involved with such a critical part of a child’s life, it may be wise to have legal advice. A law firm that is experienced in helping parents to deal with parental responsibilities and how decisions will be made can provide guidance and help. Consulting with a family law firm is the first step.