When parents break up, they are expected to develop a parenting plan for the continued upbringing of their children. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the matter may have to be submitted to the court for determination. Disputes over child custody or parenting arrangements are unfortunate but common.
In Colorado, the terms “custody” and “visitation” do not actually appear in the statutes. Instead, the law discusses an allocation of parental rights and responsibilities based on the child’s best interest. There is a distinction between decision-making responsibility and parenting time or time-sharing. Often, judges in Colorado family courts order parents to share joint decision-making responsibilities, meaning that both parents will have an equal voice in making the child’s major life decisions. That does not dictate the time-sharing arrangement, which is a distinct component of the determination. One parent may have more parenting time than another, or the time may be split evenly between them.
Physical custody versus legal custody
In Colorado, parental responsibilities fall into two categories:
Parenting time is comparable to what may commonly be referred to as physical custody. This includes identification of how much time the child will spend with each parent, the routine schedule, pick-up and drop-off arrangements, holiday schedules and vacation time.
Decision-making responsibility is comparable to what is referred to as legal custody. This involves the major decisions that parents make for their children during their lives, including education choices, medical treatments and extracurricular activities.
What are the advantages of shared parental responsibilities?
After separation or divorce, sharing parental responsibilities is highly preferred for the children’s wellness and development in most cases. When the children regularly spend time with both parents, that minimizes the potential feeling of abandonment or confusion. The shared responsibility for decision-making requires the parents to develop good communication skills. This will enable them to solve child-related concerns.