Colorado differs from other states when it comes to custody rulings. In fact, the state does not typically use the term “custody,” and does not have the law of sole custody nor joint custody. Instead, it uses the legal term “allocation of parental responsibilities,” which comprises both parenting time and decision-making responsibilities regarding the children. Parental responsibility can be either primary or joint.
In Colorado, obtaining an arrangement similar to joint custody is not that difficult. This is because when it comes to divorce cases, Colorado’s legislative code specifically indicates that children should continue to have frequent and meaningful contact with both parents after a divorce.
Joint custody rulings in Colorado differ from other states, as Colorado judges aim for shared custody solutions as opposed to traditional joint custody arrangements. Shared custody refers to both parents sharing equal amounts of time and financial responsibility for their child.
When determining custody, the child’s best interests are always the primary basis. More often than not, joint custody will be awarded if both parents wish to be involved in the lives of their children, and when both parents are deemed to be loving and nurturing. For a parent to obtain full custody, the other parent must prove that the child’s other parent is unfit, and that his or her negative behavior has a direct effect on the child.
Determining Parenting Time
When determining parenting time, Colorado courts take into account the following factors:
- The wishes of the child, if he or she is old enough to express them
- The wishes of each parent
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The child’s relationship with extended family members
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- The physical and mental health of the involved parties
- The geographical proximity of the parents to one another
- The willingness of each parent to nurture a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent
- The willingness of each parent to put the needs of the child first
- How involved each parent is with the day-to-day activities of the child
The abovementioned factors relate to physical custody or parenting time, helping the courts to determine which parent the child should live with majority of the time.
Though joint custody or parenting time can be particularly difficult for a child when two parents live far away from each other, Colorado courts strongly encourage children to physically spend as much time with each parent as possible.
When possible, Colorado courts grant decision-making responsibilities to both parents. Though parents will not need to consult each other for routine day-to-day decisions, joint custody requires the parents to consult each other for issues relating to the child’s education, health, medical care, religion, and general welfare.
Again, several factors are taken into consideration:
- Whether the parents are capable of cooperating and making important decisions together
- Whether there is there a nurturing and loving relationship between the child and each parent
- Whether joint custody will result in constant contact with both parents
- Whether joint custody will result in minimal disruption in the child’s life
No Colorado court will grant child custody to a parent that is determined to be an emotional or physical danger to their child. Past instances of child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, or domestic violence will be taken seriously.