The term “custody”, which in Colorado is referred to as “allocation of parental responsibilities”, is broken down into two components – (1) decision-making and (2) parenting time.
Decision making is just that – the ability of each parent to participate in making significant decisions for the minor child. The court typically breaks decision making down into four main categories – educational, extracurricular, medical, and religious. Each is exactly what it sounds like. This does not encompass day to day decisions like bedtimes and chores, but rather where a child should go to school, if a child needs braces, should they be on a travel swim team, and so forth. Unless there are major religious conflicts, the court typically allows each parent to raise a child in his or her own relative faith.
The courts strive to award joint decision unless there are founded reasons why the parents cannot work together to make decisions, including but not limited to: domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, absence from or demonstrated non-participation in the child’s life, and a mental health issues. These factors generally relate to the health and wellbeing of the parents, not the child.
The other component, parenting time, is how the parents allocate the child’s time between them. Parenting time schedules are generally made up by some mix of overnights and dinner visits; daytime-only visits and supervised visits are appropriate in some circumstances.
Generally, parents are awarded a share of overnights, sometimes with mid-week dinner visits with the off-duty parent. Typical schedules may include “every other weekend”, wherein one parent has the majority parenting time and the other parent has weekend overnights; week-on/week-off, wherein the child splits time between the parents by spending a week with one and then a week with another; the 2-2-5, which is typically represented in one parent having Mondays and Tuesdays, the other parent having Wednesdays and Thursdays, and then alternating weekends. If parents are sharing parenting time, the court typically looks to the “best interests of the child” standard, which is found in C.R.S. §14-10-124.
Supervised, daytime-only , or non-overnight parenting time may be appropriate when a parent cannot demonstrate basic parenting skills, struggles with ongoing substance abuse that has the potential to affect the child, there are concerns about abuse or anger management, and so forth. In situations like these, the court typically has to make findings about how the parent’s behavior negatively impacts the child’s well-being. This is called the “endangerment standard”, which is governed by C.R.S. §14-10-129(4).
Together, decision making, parenting time, and child support all comprise a parenting plan. Each parenting plan is as unique as the family it represents, and creating a good plan takes time, skill, experience, and knowledge. To create the best parenting plan for you and your family, contact Jessica by phone at 970-470-2338 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.