The first priority for many divorcing parents may be figuring out how the child will split their time between both parents after the divorce. When determining the allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly known as child custody, Colorado courts will consider the best interests of the child. In Colorado, the idea of physical custody of a child is now referred to as ‘parenting time,’ while legal custody is now referred to as ‘decision making.’
Ideally, divorcing parents will put their personal differences aside and come up with a plan detailing how they will share parenting time. However, if parents are unable to agree, the judge will make the decision for them. Colorado judges will consider various factors when determining parental responsibilities, including the wishes the parents and the child (if old enough), the physical distance between the parent’s houses, the relationship between each parent and the child prior to the divorce, the child’s needs, and the ability of each parent to care for the child.
Additionally, the court will look at whether both parents will be able to work together to make decisions regarding the child and encourage contact between the child and both parents. While no case is the same, courts generally prefer to keep both parents as involved in the child’s life as possible.
Once the judge has made his or her determination based on these factors, they will issue an order that both parents must follow.
It is important to remember, though, that most family law matters, including child custody and parenting time, often look simpler on paper than they actually are. Therefore, to make sure that any and all pitfalls can be avoided, it may be a smart decision to seek professional advice.