Child custody determines practical matters like living arrangements, as well as the moral guidance, upbringing, and decision-making responsibilities for a child.
The system here separates the issues of where children live (i.e. with each parent for certain days, times, holidays) versus how major decisions are made for the children.
These issues are decided either by you and your spouse or by the Colorado courts. Statutes state that judges should award “frequent and continuing contact” between the children and both parents unless the danger of physical or psychological harm to the child is present. The courts also prefer that both parents spend approximately equal time with the children, unless circumstances warrant a different arrangement.
If you are fortunate enough to have an amicable separation with your partner, a divorce lawyer can help you draw up a parenting plan that will be enforceable in court.
You and your partner must agree on all parental responsibilities in the best interests of the children to complete a full parenting plan and the Courts will then adopt your plan upon finding those agreements are in the best interests of the children.
This agreement needs to cover both parenting time (residential arrangements and how the child’s time is divided between you both) and decision-making responsibilities, as well as include child support provisions i.e. a full parenting plan.
If you cannot agree on these matters, the Court may step in to determine the allocation of parental responsibilities that are in the best interests of the children. This will usually result in a hearing and the Court will decide on parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities.
These decisions will always prioritize the interests of the child (health, safety, education, etc.) over those of the parents.