Child Custody

Parental Responsibilities

Colorado switched from the term ‘child custody’ to parental responsibilities in 1999. Nothing has changed in what is expected of the parents or the court under the new term of parental responsibilities, it is simply new terminology. Colorado, like many states, looks at the big picture when determining the amount of time a child has with each of his or her parents. A 50/50 split does not work for all, even many, families. The only factor that makes determining parental responsibilities easier is if both parents can agree on the terms from the get-go.

When both parents can amicably decide on how much time each guardian will be allocated, they can file a case under what is known as petitioner and co-petitioner. This entails that both parties are in agreement on what the parental responsibilities will be for each parent. This, of course, makes the case a lot simpler for everyone involved. We understand that it is not easy, or common really, for both parents to agree on the amount of time or the financial responsibility they will have in the case.

What happens when both parties do not agree on the terms?

When one or both of the parents involved do not agree with the parental responsibilities proposed by the other, they may file a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. It is essentially a petition that outlines the terms that the other parent does and does not agree with.

Does a petition always mean that the petitioner’s wishes will be granted?

Absolutely not. As stated previously, the court takes everything into consideration. Whether parents agree on a majority of the responsibilities distributed or none, the following points are the most important factors when it comes to a judge deciding custody:

  • The wishes of the child or children
  • The wishes of each parent
  • The relationship the child has with each parent and other influential people in their life
  • The adjustments that the child would need to make in a new school, new home, and new environment or community
  • The health — both mental and physical — of all the children and parents involved

What happens if one or both parents strongly disagree with the court ordered custody plan?

If there are any modifications a parent would like to make to their assigned parental responsibilities, they may file what is called a Motion to Modify Decision-Making Responsibility.

What if one parent wants full custody of their child but will need financial support?

How much time one parent has with a child does not necessarily mean that they will bear an equal percentage of financial support. A parent with primary custody, or 100% custody, may only bear 25% of the financial responsibility. Financial responsibility is determined by gross monthly income and other expenses.

What is primary and joint custody?

Colorado does not use the term sole custody. Since switching from child custody to parental responsibilities, Colorado has deemed custody either joint or primary. Any case where a parent has less than ninety (90) overnight visitations, deems the other parent (with more than 89 overnight visitations) primary custody. When a parent has primary custody, they are then the sole decision-maker. A sole decision-maker has the power to make major decisions regarding educational, religious, medical decisions and more.

Can a child request to live with one parent over another before they turn 18?

Colorado does not have a minimum age in order for them to request full or altered custody. The court will be the primary determinant in the situation, however, the court puts great emphasis on what the child’s wishes are. Depending on their reasoning and maturity, a court may alter a parent’s responsibilities if they see fit.

What is supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation is when one parent is allowed to visit the minor child or children with proper supervision. This may be put in order in cases where there has been a history of abuse or neglect. There are also cases where one parent is denied visitation altogether.

Do grandparents play a role in parental responsibility?

Sometimes. In some cases, grandparents will be issued specific visitation rights. However, there are a limited set of responsibilities the court may place on grandparents as it may violate the way in which a parent chooses to raise their child or interfere with their own relationship with the grandparents.

If you are dealing with child custody, or parental responsibility, in Denver, Colorado, seek the help of experienced and acclaimed attorney Jarrett J. Benson. Whether you are new to parental responsibility and child custody in Colorado or you need help in modifying a current
custody plan, the Law Offices of Jarrett J. Benson are here to assist you and your family best. Contact us today to get started on an evaluation of your case.