October 14, 2017

What is child custody in Colorado?

As a Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney, one of the main areas I get asked about is child custody. People want to know what their rights are as parents in the State of Colorado. This article will address the basics of what child custody is in Colorado.

In all cases in Colorado involving minor children which include divorce, legal separation and allocation of parental rights cases, the Courts will use the “best interests of the child” factors to determine child custody and visitation.

By Colorado Statutes, on February 1, 1999, the term “custody” and related terms was changed to “parental responsibilities” and on July 1, 1993, the term “visitation” was changed to “parenting time”. So, when I hear potential clients ask about visitation and custody, I always think of parenting time and parental responsibilities.

Generally, child custody or parental responsibilities is broken down into two areas: 1) Parenting Time and 2) Decision Making.

Parenting Time

In Colorado, parents receive parenting time with the children and not physical custody. Each parent is entitled to reasonable parenting time with their children based upon the Court using the best interest factors.

See our article, What are the “Best Interests” of the Child?

Decision Making

There are two types of decision making responsibilities for the minor children, major decisions and day to day decisions.

For major decisions, I usually see the Courts grant joint decision making for both parents. This way both parents are communicating and jointly deciding what is best for their children. Types of major decisions include major medical and dental, education, extracurricular activities, and religion.

For day to day decisions, those decisions generally fall with the person that has parenting time with the children. The example that I use is if one parent feeds the children Lucky Charms during their parenting time and the other feeds the children Fruit Loops during their parenting time, that is fine. Outside of health issues, one parent cannot force their will of Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops on the other parent.

The goal of decision making is to make sure the parents are cooperating and making decisions that are in the best interests of the children. Always remember to put the needs of the children ahead of your own needs.

Full Custody

Lastly, I wanted to address full custody or sole parenting time. I am often asked if a parent can get full custody over another parent. In my time practicing family law, full custody is an extremely rare occurrence. Even if a parent has supervised parenting time, the other parent does not have full custody or sole parenting time as the other parent does have some time with the children.

If you have questions about child custody or visitation please contact the lawyers at Springs Law Group. Springs Law Group offers a free consultation for your Family Law and Personal Injury matters.

Christopher Nicolaysen is a Family law Attorney who practices in Colorado Springs, CO. He graduated from Denver Sturm College of Law, and has been practicing law for several years now. Christopher Nicolaysen is passionate about helping you solve your family matters. Learn more about his experience here.

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