In Colorado, the legal term "parental responsibilities" is used to refer to matters of child custody and visitation. The considerations that go into determining parental responsibilities during a divorce vary from those of other states. Here are some of the most important things to know when entering into a divorce in Colorado.
1. The court determines parental responsibility based on the best interests of the child.
This is the primary standard by which the court makes its decisions on child custody matters. Above all else, the child's development, security and well-being will be taken into account when determining primary residential and legal responsibilities.
2. The court will usually assign joint parental responsibility (legal custody) for decision-making.
Unless there is good reason not to allow both parents to make major life decisions for a child, the court will generally split legal responsibility.
3. While joint residential responsibility (physical custody) is usually preferred by the court, this may not always be practical.
Depending on the age of the child and the location of both parents' residences, it may not be reasonable to assign residential responsibility on a 50/50 basis. While the court will usually seek to divide parenting time as equally as possible, in cases where one parent lives further away the court may decide to grant primary residential responsibility to one parent, with the child spending every other weekend with the other.
4. A child's preferences may be taken into account when determining parental responsibilities, but they are not the only factor.
The preference of older children will carry more weight with the court, as they are more able to offer a reasoned preference. However, any decision made will take the best interest of the child into account, which may not always align with the child's preferences.
5. The determination of parental responsibilities is made separately from decisions regarding child support and maintenance.
Child support is calculated based on income and other financial considerations, and is treated separately to issues of parental responsibility and residential arrangements. Parenting time and decision-making responsibilities are not dependent upon payment of maintenance.
If you have further questions about what to expect during a divorce, it is a good idea to contact an experienced family law attorney for further advice.