Parental Rights and Responsibilites
In Colorado, the division of parenting in a dissolution action is called allocation of parental responsibilities. This is commonly referred to as custody and visitation in some other states. A petition for allocation of parental rights and responsibilities can be made as part of a dissolution action or by itself. Allocation of parental responsibilities involves determining how much time the children will spend with each parent and whether one parent will have a majority of physical care time, or whether the parents will share physical care. In Colorado, if both parents have the children for more than 92 overnights a year, that constitutes shared physical care.
Parental decision-making responsibility must also be allocated. Decision making involves allocation for the responsibility of making major decisions involving the child, such as health, education and religion. Parents can designate other matters for decision allocation such as choice and payment for extracurricular activities. Courts determine all matters involving children using the “best interests of the child” standard. If a court designates allocation of parental decision-making responsibilities because parties can not agree, it will consider the following factors:
- Past pattern of involvement. Who has made what type of decisions for the children in the past and why?
- Whether mutual decision-making will promote contact. What will the impact of mutual decision making be on parental involvement?
- Child abuse, neglect or domestic violence. In cases where there is a finding of domestic violence or child abuse, a court will not award joint decision-making authority over the objection of a party
If a court decides allocation of parental physical care responsibilities because parties disagree, it will consider the following factors:
- What the parents would like to happen. Although the best interests of the children are the priority, the parent’s desires are considered too
- What the children would like.
- If the children are of sufficient age to express a preference, a court may consider their desires
- A court may hear the children’s wishes through a Child and Family Investigator or Guardian Ad Litem Report, or through an in-chambers meeting with the child
- Relationship with family members
- Child’s adjustment to home, school and community
- Physical and mental health of all
- Ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection and contact. Courts like to see parents put aside their personal issues with each other to encourage the children to have an active and healthy relationship with both parents
- Past pattern of involvement. A court will want to know who the primary caretaker has been and what the other parent’s involvement with the children has been.
- Physical proximity. This is particularly relevant for school age children. However, even for children not in school, the amount of time that they would have to spend in a vehicle to travel for parenting time is relevant.
- Ability to place the needs of the child first. Some parents are so angry with each other that they are unable to see how their behavior negatively impacts the children. Courts assess the parent’s ability to set aside any negative feelings about each other to focus their efforts constructively on the children’s needs.
Are you looking for a Family Law Attorney who understands the impact of divorce and separation on children? At Janko Family Law we understand how to accomplish your goals in family law matters. Give us a call for a complimentary case assessment at 719-344-5523, or submit the online intake form on our website to request a contact.