Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
Setting forth arrangements for children is the most important aspect of dissolution. Allocation of parental responsibilities is comprised of parenting time and decision-making authority. Many states call this physical and legal custody. Parenting time is the division of time that each parent will spend with the child, and decision-making responsibility involves who will make major decisions about the child, such as those involving education, medical care and religion. Often both parents share joint decision-making responsibility.Legal Standard and Factors
There is a legal standard that applies to all domestic relations matters. It is important to know the standard because the Court will use it to decide the domestic relations issue. The legal standard pertaining to allocation of parental responsibilities is the best interests of the child. There are a nine factors involved in determining what is the best interests of the child. They are generally:
- The parents’ wishes.
- The child’s wishes if he or she is sufficiently mature to express them
- The relationship between the child and parents, siblings, and significant others
- The child’s adjustment to home, school and community.
- Mental & physical health of parents and children
- The parents' ability to encourage a constructive relationship with the other parent
- The parents' past involvement with the children
- The distance between the parents' homes
- 9 The ability of each parent to prioritize the children's needs
For decision-making responsibility, the same nine factors apply, plus there are three additional factors. The additional factors generally are:
- Whether the parties can cooperate to make joint decisions.
- The parties’ ability to make joint decisions that positively impact the children
- The impact of joint decision-making on the parents' contact with the children
In addition to the legal standards and how a court evaluates allocation of parental responsibilities, there are certain areas that a court can not consider when making an allocation of parental responsibilities determination.
- Marital misconduct that does not impact the children, for example adultery
- The gender of the parents
- A request for paternity testing
- Departure from the home due to domestic violence
- Parental income
- Sexual orientation
In cases of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault a court must consider child safety. However this does not mean that the offending parent will necessarily have no contact with the child. There are other forms of parenting, such as supervised parenting, that can help ensure the safety of the child. Courts favor parental contact with children and it is unusual outside of a dependency and neglect case for a court to completely bar a parent from contact with his or her child.Janko Family Law - Is it Time For a Change?
Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. With offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, we can guide you through the experience by handling pleading and motion preparation and filing, negotiation, mediation, and court proceedings from start to finish. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on trying to figure out how the overly complex court system works. Remember that change often creates new opportunity and a better future. Janko Family Law can help ensure that your best interests and the best interests of your family are protected. Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.