Parental Responsibilities

In Colorado, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR) is what decides the basics of visitation and child custody. This legal principle is used when two married parents are getting divorced or two parents who were never married are ending their relationship and need orders regarding their children. This legal process is meant to address all parenting rights and responsibilities, including the two main issues: parenting time and decision-making.

 

Parenting time

The issue of parenting time covers what the regular parenting schedule will be for the children involved, including pick-up and drop-off arrangements, visitation schedules, and vacation and holiday schedules. These decisions are made in accordance with what is viewed as being in the “best interests of the child.” By state law, the court has to look at many factors to determine what is in a child’s best interests, including the areas outlined below.

    • What each parent desires in terms of parenting time
    • The child’s wishes, if he or she is mature enough to express his or her preferences in an independent way
    • The relationships of the child with both parents and other important people in his or her life, such as siblings
    • How a child has adjusted to his or her community, school and home
    • The physical and mental health of everyone involved – a disability on its own is not acceptable as a basis to restrict or deny parenting time
    • The ability of each parent to encourage contact, love and affection between the child and the other parent
    • The physical location of each parent as it relates to logistics and practical parenting time considerations
    • Whether either parent has ever committed child neglect or abuse or an act of domestic violence
    • Each parent’s ability to put their child’s needs above their own

 

Making decisions for the child

In an APR action, decision-making is also addressed. Many major decisions need to be made for children, including those related to medical treatments, religion, and education, so the court needs to decide who will be responsible for making those big choices. Both parents can receive the right to make these decisions jointly, or one parent may receive the ability to make the major decisions on his or her own. As with parenting time, the court will consider may factors before making a call, including the areas covered below.

    • Whether there is any evidence that both parents can cooperate enough to make joint decisions
    • Whether the parents’ past relationship with their child demonstrates that they can make joint decisions in a way that does not negatively impact their relationship with the child
    • Whether joint decision-making will promote contact between the child and each parent
    • Whether either parent has committed an act of child abuse or neglect; parents found to have neglected or abused their child often do not receive any decision-making responsibilities
    • Whether a parent has ever been found to have committed an act of domestic violence. If the court finds that both parents can make joint decisions about the child without a threat of physical confrontation or harm, they may issue joint decision-making responsibilities.

In an APR action, the child support obligation is also set. This is based on many factors, including the allocation of parenting time and the respective incomes and assets of both parents. Child support is an ongoing obligation that will impact your finances now and in the future, so be sure to speak to an attorney about it and other areas of child custody and visitation to ensure that your rights are protected.

More than one person can bring an APR action. Parents are the most common, but a person other than a parent who has had a child in his or her care for at least six months can also petition the court for this process. A person other than the parent who has custody of or parental responsibilities through an order of juvenile court can also petition the court for an APR proceeding.

 

Grandparents’ rights

Colorado does recognize the rights of grandparents with their grandchildren. The court looks at various factors when considering the rights of a grandparent to see his or her grandchild, including the relationship the grandparents have with the grandchild, how much support they have provided the grandchild and his or her parents, and their level of past and current involvement in the child’s life and care. If you are a grandparent who is concerned about seeing your grandchild, speak to an attorney about your case.

Naturally, the allocation of parenting responsibilities will shape your relationship and time spent with your child. The Burnham Law Firm’s team of experienced professionals is ready and able to assist you with your APR action so your rights and wishes have a place in the proceedings. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.