Not every divorce is a drama-fueled spectacle, but even in the most amicable divorces, child custody can be a real sticking point. In Colorado, several child custody determinations exist to make decisions in the best interest of the child.
Parental Responsibility in Colorado
In Colorado, the division of parental responsibility covers two different areas:
- Authority to make decisions for the child
- Parenting time
When determining these in court, the judge decides what will benefit the child most.
It’s important to understand that the child’s residence doesn’t define decision-making authority. Authority to make decisions on behalf of the child is exactly what it sounds like: the parent decides how to address the needs of the child, including long-range parenting plans.
Factors Used to Determine Parental Responsibility
In many cases, parental responsibility is not an either/or proposition. The judge often understands how both parents play a role in the child’s life. Decisions incorporate how both parents contribute to the developmental and emotional needs of the child.
The factors used to determine parental responsibility reflect the best interests of the child, considering their emotional, mental, and physical needs. These factors divide into two categories: parenting time and decision-making responsibilities.
When deciding parenting time, the judge will consider:
- What the parents want in regards to parenting time
- What the child wants, as long as they are mature enough to state it
- The relationships and interaction of the child with their parents and siblings
- How the child adjusts to their community, home, and school
- The physical and mental health of the adults involved
- The capacity of the responsible parent to encourage affection, love, and contact between the child and other parent
- Past involvement in the caregiving of the child
- The distance between parent households and how the practical effects on sharing parenting time
When it comes to decisions of parental decision-making responsibilities, the judge will evaluate:
- All the items listed under parental time
- If the parties can make joint decisions in the best interest of the child
- If joint decision-making responsibilities would result in more frequent contact between the child and the other parent
In general, parents can expect to be granted parenting time, unless the judge believes the child’s emotional or physical health would be endangered.
An experienced attorney can help guide you through the parental responsibility process and ensure your motivations as a parent are represented.
CO’s View of Spousal Maintenance
Often in divorce cases, spousal maintenance (or alimony) can cause conflict between the parties vying for custody. The spouse that earns more makes payments to the lesser-earning spouse to prevent destitution during and after the divorce process. Spousal Maintenance can be agreed upon by the parties in the case, or the court can calculate it.
There are several types of alimony in Colorado. They are:
The court will consider factors similar to those in parental responsibility cases to determine spousal maintenance eligibility. In general, the court deems spousal maintenance appropriate if the marriage lasted at least three years.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.