Parental Rights in Colorado
Parents have highly protected legal rights to parent their children and seek support for their children.
Parental rights (known in courts as parental responsibilities) include child custody (parenting time) and decision-making.
Whether you are married to the father/mother of your child or not, you have a right to parent your child. The Court can hear a case on your parental rights within a dissolution of marriage case or in an allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) case.
In a case involving parental rights, you and your child's father/mother can agree to a parenting plan or argue to the Court for your preferred parenting plan. If you have disagreement during a pending case, you can seek temporary orders.
It's all about the best interests of the child, but what does that mean?
In Colorado, the court will review your parenting plan to ensure that the allocation of parental responsibilities, including parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, are in the best interests of the child. The court will apply a number of statutory factors to the facts of your case to make that determination.
Under that statute (C.R.S 14-10-124), the court considers the following factors to determine whether the allocation of parenting time is in the child’s best interest:
(1) The wishes of the child's parents as to parenting time;
(2) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
(3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
(4) The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
(5) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
(6) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party; except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party's protective actions shall not be considered with respect to this factor;
(7) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
(8) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time; and
(9) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
As you can see, the determination is very fact specific.
To allocate decision-making responsibilities, the Court considers the above factors in addition to the following factors:
(1) Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
(2) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
(3) Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties.