How do Courts in Colorado Determine Child Custody?
Colorado law does not use the word “custody” in its legal terminology; instead, it refers to parental “responsibility”, which includes decision-making and parenting time (formerly called “visitation”). In other words, the law distinguishes the right to make important decisions for the child from the right to actual physical parenting time, and may split the responsibilities up differently.
What is the difference between “decision making” and “parenting time”?
The issue of parenting time is a complicated one. Even if the Court feels that both parties are “fit” as parents, they may still grant the majority of parenting time to one parent, because they are influenced by the facts presented that it is in the “best interest of the child”. The Court considers what schedule is best for the child—so it may attempt to establish a certain level of permanency, in addition to maintaining a bond with both parents.
In Colorado, “decision making” privileges are separated, because Courts treat them differently. It is possible to have unequal parenting time but shared decision-making responsibilities.
What does the judge/magistrate take into account when determining custody?
Overall, the Court legally aims to rule in what it thinks is the “best interest of the child”. This can be interpreted in many different ways, but it is important to remember that this is the standard by which the Court will rule.