How a judge decides the allocation of parental responsibilities

The idea that parents have custody over minor children often feeds into the most contentious aspects of divorce. Parents become so fixated on winning or punishing each other that they don’t think about the impact of their behavior on the children. Their own desires become more important than the children’s needs.

Colorado has long tried toupholdthe best interests of childrenin divorces. In fact, state lawmakers have drastically altered the language in Colorado family law statutes to change the way that people approach the process of co-parenting.

Instead of talking about the custody of minor children, the law in Colorado discusses the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. How does a judge decide how to split up those rights and responsibilities?

The focus should always be on what is best for thechildren

In most modern divorces, there is a presumption that shared parental responsibilities will be the optimal outcome. Children typically benefit from having both of their parents actively involved in their lives. When each parent has parental responsibilities including financial support and parenting time, that keeps them in close contact with the children. How to split them can be a difficult decision.

A judge will look closely at the family circumstances to set the specific rules for shared parental responsibilities. The relationship each parent has with the children, the needs of the children and even the living circumstances of the parents can all matter for a judge deciding how much parenting time and decision-making authority each parent should get in the divorce.

How do you advocate for yourself as an involved parent?

Wanting to have as much time as possible with the children is a natural impulse. Although the courts are very unlikely to deny your ex all parental rights and responsibilities, they may limit them in certain situations.

If you can show that you have been the one spending most of the time with the children or that there are issues with your ex’s behavior, the courts may allocate more parental responsibilities to you. Abuse, addiction and even an unsafe housing arrangement could all influence what a judge feels will be best for the kids and your family.

Understanding what affects theallocation of parental rights and responsibilitiesdecision in a Colorado divorce will help you plan for your day in court.