Who Gets Primary Custody in Colorado?

Who Gets Primary Custody in Colorado?Colorado courts will grant joint custody when it is in the Best Interests of the Children. In many cases, however, one parent becomes the “custodial parent” while the other is the “noncustodial parent.” When determining child custody, judges don’t simply default to either party. Instead, they carefully consider certain factors outlined in the law, all aimed at safeguarding the child’s best interests.

Types of Child Custody in Colorado

Parents may seek two types of child custody in Colorado: legal custody and physical custody. In order to align with Colorado law, legal professionals use the broader term “parental responsibilities” to refer to custody in general.

Additionally, they use the term “decision-making responsibility” to refer to legal custody, and “parenting time” to refer to both physical custody and visitation. Although the terminology may vary, the fundamental concepts remain consistent.

Responsibility for Decision-Making (Legal Custody) in Colorado

Responsibility for decision-making pertains to the rights of parents to make significant choices regarding a child’s life, such as education, medical treatment, and religious upbringing. While joint decision-making responsibility is favorable for parents, there are circumstances that arise where joint decision making   may not be ordered, such as in cases with Domestic Violence, with limited exception under Colorado Revised Statutes 14-10-124.

Nevertheless, even with shared legal custody, a judge may assign specific authority to each parent for certain issues. For instance, one parent may have the final say in matters related to the child’s education, while the other parent could exercise decision-making power with regard to religious upbringing.

Irrespective of the specific legal custody arrangement, either parent may seek necessary medical treatment for the child in the event of a medical emergency without contravening the existing court order.

Parenting Time (Physical Custody) in Colorado

Parenting time in Colorado includes the child’s residence and the division of time spent with each parent. Typically, if a mom or dad has fewer than 93 overnight visits with the child per year, they are considered the noncustodial parent for child support purposes. The other parent – who gets the majority of time with the child – is the custodial parent, whom the court deems as primarily responsible.

On the other hand, when both parents have a similar number of overnight visits, the court considers this joint parental responsibility. Even so, one parent may still be designated as the custodial parent – for example, when it’s essential for school enrollment.

Factors Affecting Child Custody Arrangements

The first option in arranging for child custody is for both parents to create a mutually favorable parenting plan. This plan should outline how they will allocate parental decision-making and split parenting time with the child. If the court finds that this parenting plan safeguards the child’s best interests, the judge will enter it into a formal court order.

If the parents have not agreed on a parenting plan, the court will come up with one. The court has the responsibility to prioritize the best interests of the child. However, the court’s decision can be influenced by the evidence from each parent during the hearing. There are several significant factors that greatly contribute to determining child custody arrangements, such as:

  • Consensual arrangements for parenting time provided by the shared child’s parents
  • The child’s preferences, which usually depend on their level of maturity and age
  • The quality of the relationship between the child and their parents or siblings
  • The child’s adjustment to their present situation, particularly in terms of their education and social life
  • Parents’ physical and mental well-being as well as that of the child
  • Parents’ willingness to cooperate and share parenting responsibilities
  • Degree of parental involvement in the child’s life
  • Proximity of parents’ residences for practical purposes
  • Parents’ ability to set aside personal conflicts for the benefit of the child
  • Parents’ capacity to prioritize the child’s needs over their own
  • Any information about domestic violence within the family.

Apart from the aforementioned aspects, judges must take into account additional factors when determining the distribution of decision-making responsibilities:

  • The presence of reliable evidence demonstrating the parent’s capability to collaborate and make joint decisions
  • Whether granting both parents equal authority to decide on any issues would encourage more frequent interactions between each parent and the child.

Either parent may suggest a specific custody arrangement, but they must provide evidential support for the claims mentioned in the petition. This is particularly crucial when one parent seeks primary parental responsibility. Compelling evidence is indispensable to persuade the court that the petitioning parent is suitable to be the primary custodian of the child.

For instance, if one parent consistently provokes conflicts, which adversely affects child care, evidence of such conflict is significant in convincing the court to grant primary parental responsibility.

Contact a Colorado Child Custody Lawyers – Goldman Law, LLC

For guidance on matters such as divorce or parental rights, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced attorneys at Goldman Law, LLC.

Contact us by dialing (303) 656-9529 and discover the ways we can help you with your child custody or any family law concern.