Your Guide to Colorado Child Custody Laws
During the divorce process, couples must face difficult decisions that not only impact the rest of their lives but their children’s. When parents disagree on child custody issues, their case can quickly become contentious, making the experience more stressful.
From the outside, child custody laws can be complex, but knowing the basics can help ensure that you are making the best choices for your case. At the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., protecting our clients and their loved ones is our highest priority. We’re going over what you need to know about Colorado’s child custody laws so that you are best prepared for your case.
Types of Child Custody in Colorado
Before diving into child custody laws, we need to go over the correct terminology. Most people are familiar with the terms “legal custody” or “physical custody,” but Colorado abolished the use of those phrases in 1999, and instead now refers to child custody as “parental responsibilities.” These primary responsibilities include parenting time, decision making, and child support. Below, we’ll explain the various types of custody arrangements
Decision Making (Legal Custody)
Legal custody gives parents authority to make significant decisions about the child’s life and welfare. This may include decisions regarding the child’s education, religious upbringing, medical decisions, extracurricular activities, and more.
Parenting Time (Physical Custody)
Physical custody refers to the child’s physical presence with a parent, meaning whom the child will live with and the everyday caretaking responsibilities. This means that one or both parents must provide daily essentials, such as food and clothing. It also includes visitation schedules, pick-up and drop-off arrangements, and vacation schedules.
Primary decision-making responsibility occurs when one parent makes all the major decisions without consulting other parent and parenting time responsibilities, though this is rare. Courts typically prefer to give joint responsibility unless one of the parents has shown to be abusive or neglectful to the child or if the child witnesses serious domestic violence against one of the parents.
As its name implies, joint custody refers to when both parents equally share parental responsibility, which is what we see in most cases. However, other arrangements may be granted, which is where matters can become more complicated.
A judge may order joint decision making (legal custody), but this does not necessarily mean that he or she will grant joint parenting time (physical custody). A judge may find that it’s in the child’s best interests to have a primary home with designated time spent with the other parent, or primary decision making with visitation rights. Joint parenting time can be difficult to implement in some cases, especially for parents who live far away from one another.
Colorado’s Best Interests of the Child Standard
If divorcing parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the courts will have to intervene. When deciding on child custody matters, Colorado family courts apply the “best interest of the children” standard. We briefly touched on this but courts recognize that it’s in a child’s best interest to have both parents participating in his or her life. When taking into consideration a child’s best interests, they will look at the child’s health, safety, developmental needs, and emotional needs.
Colorado Springs Child Custody Attorneys
At the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C., we understand the value of family and how important your children are to you. Our team is led by the skilled father-daughter duo, and we’re here to help resolve your custody issues with care.