Common Types of Domestic Relations Actions – Part 4
There are several common areas of domestic relations law that are important to understand. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, as are many others. That means that marital misconduct, other than some instances of economic misconduct, are not relevant. Allocation of Parental Responsibilities is a common action heard in domestic relations courts.Child Custody/Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
When there are children, allocation of parental responsibilities (APR), more commonly known as child custody, must be determined. The two main issues involved in APR are parenting time and decision-making authority. There are also many other issues that will be addressed as well, such as communication with parents when the child is with the other parent. The legal standard used in an initial determination is the best interests of the child. There are several factors that a court must consider when determining APR, which is governed by C.R.S. § 13-14-124. Generally, a court evaluates for parenting time:
- Parental wishes;
- The children’s’ wishes, if of an age to express a reasoned opinion;
- The relationship of the children with the parents, siblings and significant others;
- Adjustment to home, school and community;
- The mental and physical health of the family;
- The ability of the parties to encourage a relationship with the other parent;
- The involvement of each parent with the children;
- The location of the parents, and
- The ability of each party to place the needs of the children ahead of his or her own.
Decision-making involves the authority to make major decisions about the children. The legal standard for an initial order is the best interests of the children. Major decisions generally involve health, education and religion, however can also include other aspects if the parties agree. Most often, parents will have joint decision-making which means that they should make major decisions about the children together. However, sometimes joint decision-making is not the best option, for example in cases where domestic violence has occurred. For decision-making the courts consider generally:
- The ability of the parties to constructively make joint decisions about the children;
- The prior involvement of the parents with the children; and
- The impact of joint decision-making.
There are special considerations when a parent would like to relocate with the children after an initial order has been issued. There is one standard when a custody order has not yet been issued and another when one has. When an order has not yet been issued, the court must accept where each parent states that they will reside and create a suitable parenting plan accordingly. This generally will involve which parent will be the primary parent. When parents live outside of the same school district, shared parenting may not be practical.
After a custody order has already been issued, the court must decide whether it is in the best interests of the children to relocate where one parent would like to go. A court could decide that the children should relocate or that they should stay in Colorado with the non-relocating parent. The court considers the best interests factors from C.R.S. § 13-14-124, set forth generally above. In relocations, it is important to explain to the court why the relocation or why remaining in the current setting is in the best interests of the children.
However, the court also considers a separate set of relocation factors in addition to the best interest factors. The relocation factors generally are:
- The reasons for the relocation;
- The reasons why an objecting party opposes the relocation;
- The relationship of the parents and children;
- Educational opportunities in both locations;
- Extended family in both locations;
- Any advantages of a child remaining with a primary caregiver; and
- The impact of a relocation on the children.
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce and family law attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs divorce and family law matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. Give yourself the benefit of hiring one. This allows you to focus on moving on to a better future instead of spending your time attempting to navigate complex legal rules and procedures.
Sabra Janko from Janko Family Law has 24 years of legal experience and protects your best interests and ensures that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. Contact us at 719-344-5523 for a free 30-minute informational consultation or complete our online form.