Every state’s family law system has to handle disagreements between former spouses about custody issues during a divorce. That means that there are 50 unique approaches to addressing those problems.
Colorado has been one of the states leading the way into a more progressive approach to parent-child relationships during a divorce. Once you understand the details that make Colorado’s approach different from other states handle custody, it will be much easier for you to plan a realistic divorce and custody strategy.
Colorado uses different language than most other states
If you were to go through the Colorado statute about custody, you might feel surprised to discover that the state doesn’t use the word “custody.” Instead, they refer to both “parental rights” and “responsibilities.”
Parents have a right to information about their child’s lives and involvement in the lives of their children. They have a right to express their wishes regarding the division of parenting time, sometimes called physical custody, and parental authority, also known as legal custody in other states.
Parents have a responsibility to provide for the basic needs of their children. Their responsibilities include financially supporting the children, providing housing, providing emotional support and otherwise helping children grow up into functional young adults.
Colorado’s laws also specifically list rights for the children
Custody laws in most states focus primarily on the rights and needs of the parents involved. While it is common for the laws to reference the best interests of the children, most of the language focuses on the parents.
In Colorado, the approach is more child-focused. In fact, the custody statutes include a list of specific and important rights allocated to children when their parents divorce. Children have the right to have custody decisions reflect their best interests. They have the right to remain safe with their parents and reside in homes free of violence and neglect.
For most divorcing parents, the likely outcome will be a shared allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. The courts or the parents will have to find a way to fairly divide parenting time and legal authority in a way that best upholds the interests of the children. Understanding that shared custody is likely can help you focus your efforts on realistic goals during the custody proceedings.