Child Custody & Support

 

 
 

 
 
In Colorado, a Court’s decisions regarding child custody and visitation is Called “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities,” or “APR.” During this Allocation of Parental Responsibilities, a Court (a Judge, not a Jury) will make a decision in three basic areas that will frame the parent child relationship: parenting time, decision making, and child support. In each of these determinations, the Court is required to make its based on what is in the best interests of the child, not on what is fair to the parents. This means that most of the time, the Court is interested in what benefit the child can get from each parent, not what each parent “deserves.” Understanding this basic principle of family law will help you and your child get the best possible outcome in an APR determination.
 
 

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Parenting Time

Parenting time of each respective parent is decided by the Court based on what the Court finds is in the best interests of the child. A judges will decide what the child’s overnight schedule will be, what the visitation schedule will be, and where the child spends each holiday and special occasion, such as birthdays and vacations. The Court is required to consider a non-exhaustive list of factors, which are set out in C.R.S. 14-10-124. A knowledgeable attorney can help you maximize each of these considerations in your favor and for the benefit of your child.

Decision Making

Decision making responsibilities include all major decisions on how a child is raised, including educational decisions, medical choices and treatments, religious training, and extracurricular activities. Colorado Courts will consider whether the parents can make decisions affecting the child together or “jointly” before they give the exclusive right to just one parent. For each decision-making issue, a Court can decide that the parents must make the decision jointly, or that one parent has sole decision-making responsibility. At all times, the Court must make that decision based on what is in the child’s best interests, and will consider the factors set forth in C.R.S. 14-10-124(b).
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Child Support

Child Support in Colorado is based on the principle that each parent owes the child an obligation, and that child support is the right of the child, not the parent receiving the child support funds. Calculating child support begins with a calculation of the total income of each parent, and the percentage of time that the child spends with each parent. However, a Court can deviate from this formula for “good cause,” and several factors are listed as considerations in C.R.S. 14-10-115(2). Often, without representation, parents do not receive a fair consideration of all of the factors that should be considered in a child support determination. This is perhaps the most common area in which people representing themselves are taken advantage-of.
 
 
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