Colorado courts decide child custody and parenting time or visitation through the allocation of parental responsibilities. Understanding those responsibilities and your options for dividing up time, duties, and decision-making, can help you resolve your child custody dispute faster and in a way that respects both parents’ roles in their child’s life.
What Does Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Mean?
The allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) is Colorado’s process for resolving child custody and parenting time disputes. Any time parents or caregivers don’t live together, they can file a petition for the allocation of parental responsibilities. This includes:
- Parents who never married
- Married parents who are separated or getting divorced
- Third parties acting as parent (such as grandparents or guardians)
The allocation of parental responsibilities includes four core issues:
- Residential custody
- Parenting time or visitation
- Allocation of parental decision-making authority
- Child support
How Can Responsibilities be Divided Between Co-Parents?
Parents are always able to negotiate the division of parental responsibilities between themselves. Often, this is best for everyone involved. A family court judge will never be as familiar with all the details of your case as you are. If you and your co-parent can reach an agreement, your child custody attorney can help you put together an enforceable parenting plan, to be entered by the court. This resolves your custody case and becomes the formal allocation of parental responsibilities, without the need for both parties to testify in court.
How Do Colorado Courts Allocate Parental Responsibilities ?
Colorado has authority to rule on custody cases involving children who have lived in the state for at least 182 days (approximately 6 months) before the petition is filed (and shorter periods in certain emergency situations). Once a petition is filed, the custody case will be assigned to a district court judge or magistrate, who is responsible for determining the allocation of parental responsibilities that is in the best interest of the child (BIOC).
The Court is required to divide up a child’s time between the parties. In almost every case, both parents will exercise some parenting time with the children. How much, and what that parenting time will look like depends on the court’s determination of the best interests of the children. This requires the court to consider all the relevant factors:
- The parents’ wishes
- The child’s wishes (if mature enough to express a reasoned and independent preference)
- The child’s interactions with parents, siblings, and others who may significantly affect the child (such as step-parents, romantic partners, or roommates)
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of everyone involved (but you can’t be denied parenting time due to a disability)
- The ability of the parties to encourage the child’s love, affection, and contact with the other party (unless protecting them from domestic violence or child abuse)
- The family’s past patterns of involvement, system of values, time commitment, and mutual support
- Physical distance between the parties’ homes (as it affects exercising parenting time)
- Each parent’s ability to place the child’s needs ahead of his or her own
Often, a parenting time plan will include
- Day-to-day visitation schedules
- Holiday parenting time
- Vacation schedules
- Pick-up and drop-off and transportation details
An allocation of parental responsibilities also includes addressing which parent or parents will be responsible for making major decisions about the child’s:
- Medical treatment
- Educational choices
- Extracurricular activities
Decision-making can be awarded jointly – requiring parents to work together to make these decisions – or awarded solely to one parent. There are a separate set of factors Colorado courts use to allocate decision-making authority:
- The parties’ ability to cooperate
- Past patterns of involvement that would suggest the ability to reach mutual decisions that provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child
- Whether mutual decision-making on any issue would improve contact between parent and child
- Allegations of spousal abuse or child abuse or neglect supported by credible evidence
An allocation of parental responsibility also includes an order requiring parents to contribute financially to their children’s care. This is based on the Colorado Child Support Formula, which calculates the appropriate payment based on each party’s income and the number of overnights allocated to each parent. It can also account for daycare costs, health insurance, and spousal maintenance.
After considering all the factors, the Colorado court will allocate parental responsibilities between the two parents (or the non-parent guardians) and enter an order laying out a parenting time plan and child support.
Get Help Resolving Colorado Child Custody Disputes
At Aviso Law, LLC, our child custody lawyers know how to navigate the allocation of parental responsibilities to make sure any order entered is in your child’s best interests. We want to help you find a parenting time arrangement and allocation of decision-making and child-related expenses that makes sense for your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.