In Colorado, custody is discussed in terms of parenting time and allocation of decision-making responsibilities.
In Colorado, the Courts have clearly stated that the right to parenting time belongs to the children, not the parents. Because the term custody seems to indicate that children are property, Denver custody attorneys prefer to use the term parenting time rights. As such, the term custody is no longer used to describe each parentâs rights to exercise parenting time with their children.
Parenting time rights are established based on the best interests of the children. There are various factors that are considered when crafting a parenting time schedule that is in the best interests of the children. For example, the Courts will consider the interactions between the children and the parents, siblings, and any other people who are close to the children. Similarly, the Court will consider the ability of the parties to mutually support each other even though they are not always on very good terms with each other.
Often times, parents wonder when the Court will consider the wishes of the children as it pertains to parenting time. The answer to this question depends on the children and the facts and circumstances of the case. Before the Court will consider the wishes of the children, it must first determine that the children are able to express a reasoned and independent wish regarding parenting time. Some mature children may develop a reasoned and independent with at a young age, while other older children may not be ready. In short, there is no specific age when a childrenâs wishes will be considered.
Allocation of Decision-Making Responsibilities
The allocation of major decision-making responsibilities is an issue that must be addressed in any case involving the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities in Colorado. Typically, there are three main areas of major decision-making responsibilities: (1) major decisions pertaining to the spiritual upbringing of a minor child, (2) major decisions pertaining to the education of a minor child, and (3) major decisions regarding the health and welfare of a minor child. Sometime, parents will agree that the enrollment of a minor child in an extracurricular activities is a major decision.
In every case, the Court must decide whether it is in the best interests of a minor child to allocate decision-making responsibilities jointly between the parents, or whether the allocation of decision-making responsibilities to one of the parents would better serve the needs of the child. Like the issue of parenting time, the allocation of decision-making responsibilities is governed by what is in the best interests of the minor child. The Court will consider various factors under the applicable law when deciding whether or not to allocate joint or sole decision-making responsibilities in a case.
For example, the Court will look at the credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and make decisions jointly. Similarly, the Court may examine the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the minor child to see if it reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child. The Court will also try to determine whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibilities on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of his or her parents.