Areas of legal expertise

Custody in Colorado: allocation of parental responsibilities

The term “parental responsibility” includes decision-making responsibility and parenting time. Decision-making responsibility is the authority to make legal decisions about the children’s health, education, religion and general welfare.

Parenting time is the amount of time each parent is scheduled to have the children. Divorce cases include the allocation of parental responsibility. Allocation of parental responsibility cases also include cases where parties are not married but have children. These cases used to be known as “custody cases.”

Parental responsibility includes determining:

  • Whether one or both parties will have decision-making responsibility
  • Where the children will live
  • How much time the children will spend with each party

In determining parenting time, a judge considers several factors which focus on the best interests of the children, including:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is mature enough to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
  6. The ability of the parties to 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;
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;

In determining parental responsibility, the judge must also consider:

  1. Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
  2. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
  3. Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties.

In some cases, the court will appoint a Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or a Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE) to conduct an investigation into the children’s best interests. The CFI or PRE will then issue a report with recommendations to assist the court in making a decision about parental responsibilities.

Parental responsibility cases also include a determination of child support.