Frequently Asked Questions: Colorado Child Custody

What does the term parental responsibilities refer to?

In 1999, the State of Colorado switched the term for child custody to parental responsibilities. Parental responsibilities cover where the child lives, any major health or educational decisions, and the parenting time that will be provided to the non-custodial parent.

Who determines parental responsibilities?

A judge will assign parental responsibilities to each parent based on the child’s best interest. Some factors that a judge may take into consideration include the child’s wishes (depending on the age and maturity of the child), the wishes of both parents, the mental and physical health of the parents and child, and how the child will handle adjusting to a new home and/or school.

What is joint custody? What is sole custody?

The State of Colorado does not have joint or sole custody. However, the parental responsibilities may be joint or primary. A parent that splits overnight visitation equally with the other parent has joint parental responsibility. A parent that receives more overnight visitations than the other parent is considered to have primary parental responsibility.

How is the amount of child support determined?

Child support is determined by each parent’s gross monthly income and specific expenses.

What is parenting time?

In 1999, the State of Colorado decided to replace the term visitation with parenting time. It refers to the time that each parent gets to spend with their child apart from the other parent.

Who determines parenting time?

A judge will allocate parenting time based on the child’s best interest. According to Colorado Revised Statues 14-10-124, some of the factors that a judge will consider when allocating parenting time include:

-The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time

-The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule

-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

-The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community

-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

-The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party

-Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support

-The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time

-Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect under section 18-6-401, C.R.S., or under the law of any state, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence

-Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence

-The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs

Can a parent refuse parenting time if child support has not been paid by the other parent?

No, a parent may not refuse parenting time to the other parent due to lack of payment of child support because it is independent of a parent’s right to see their child.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a plan that the parents of a minor child are required to submit to the Court to allocate parenting time. Parenting plans may include:

-an agreement between both parents on parental responsibilities

-a parenting time schedule of when the child will spend time with each parent on a regular-basis

-a parenting time schedule for holidays and vacations

-an agreement between both parents on decision-making responsibilities and each parents’ rights

-a plan to resolve any disputes through counseling or mediation

Can a parenting plan be modified?

Yes, a parenting plan can be modified so long as it is in the child’s best interest as defined by Colorado Revised Statue 14-10-124.

Do you have more questions about child custody in Colorado? Call McKinney and Associates at (719) 633-4541 to schedule a free consultation.

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