In Colorado, the term “child custody” has been replaced with “allocation of parental responsibilities”. The two primary components of parental responsibilities are “decision-making responsibilities” and “parenting time”.
The determination of decision-making responsibilities is of critical importance to parents who wish to participate in the decision-making process for their children notwithstanding the termination of that parent’s relationship with the other party. Within the modern legal system, there is an unwritten presumption that the parents of a minor child should jointly determine all major decisions about the child’s health, education, religion, extra-curricular activities and general well-being. A parent who desires sole decision-making responsibility on major issues generally has the burden of demonstrating that joint decision-making is inappropriate due to domestic violence, inability of the parties’ to work cooperatively with one another, or additional factors. Where applicable, the Court can also order the parties to make joint decisions about specific issues while affording one party sole decision-making responsibility about a particular issue such as religion or medical treatment for the child..
As part of a divorce case or a case for allocation of parental responsibilities (“APR”), the Court will issue a parenting time order to confirm each party’s arrangement for parenting time with the minor child(ren). Parenting time is determined in a manner which serves the best interest of the child. In cases where both parties are competent and involved parents, most parties and judges will work toward fashioning an equal parenting time schedule if this is both age appropriate and workable given the geographic proximity between the parents. While a “50/50” schedule is ideal for some families, it is not a legitimate goal for other families where an equal parenting time schedule will wreak havoc on the children due to distance between the parties, their work schedules, their children’s schedules or additional factors.
The best parenting time schedule is one which serves the best interests of the children based upon the specific circumstances of the parties and their children. Parenting schedules are not a “one size fits all” proposition. While it is important to maintain flexibility in parenting time schedules, most divorcing parties and their children benefit from having a set schedule which they can rely upon in planning their weekly activities. An experienced child custody attorney can assist the client in fashioning a proposed parenting time schedule which is tailored to meet the specific needs of the parties and their children.