Child Custody or Parenting Time

When my parents got divorced, there was a custody fight over me…and no one showed up.

-Rodney Dangerfield


Custody of a child is used in other jurisdictions beyond Colorado’s boundaries for explaining which party has the child for a certain number of days per year. Here, in Colorado, however, “custody” is not the best term or the term that is employed by the courts. Parenting time is how Colorado approaches child custody.


When one considers fighting for time for one’s child, a whole host of emotions can arise: fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, surprise, relief, hatred, love, etc. Going through litigation on your own, whether an allocation of parental responsibilities case or a dissolution of marriage or legal separation case, can be a complex and frightening experience.


Many questions arise when facing losing parenting time with your child at the hands of a tribunal: What is relevant to the Court? What is my ex going to present to the Court? Am I a good parent? How can I display to the Court the good parent that I am? Is a child expert needed to interview my child? Will that be helpful or harmful? Who do I choose as a child expert? Should I use a CFI or a PRE or neither? Can my child be forced to testify in court? Will a restraining order keep me from my child? Will a restraining order keep my ex from continuing to harm my child?


These questions and more run through the mind of a party who is battling for the right to see their child.


One nugget of knowledge that will help to allay some fears is that Colorado is a two-parent state, meaning Colorado supports both parents being involved with the child or children as noted in C.R.S. § 14-10-124, which guides parenting time decisions for courts and parties:


(1) Legislative declaration. While co-parenting is not appropriate in all circumstances following dissolution of marriage or legal separation, the general assembly finds and declares that, in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. In order to effectuate this goal when appropriate, the general assembly urges parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents.


In determining parenting time, courts must follow the statutory language and consider a multiplicity of factors:

(1.5)(a) Determination of parenting time. The court, upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion, may make provisions for parenting time that the court finds are in the child’s best interests unless the court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time by the party would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. In addition to a finding that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development, in any order imposing or continuing a parenting time restriction, the court shall enumerate the specific factual findings supporting the restriction and may enumerate the conditions that the restricted party could fulfill in order to seek modification in the parenting plan. When a claim of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault where there is also a claim that the child was conceived as a result of the sexual assault has been made to the court, or the court has reason to believe that a party has committed child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or sexual assault where there is also a claim that the child was conceived as a result of the sexual assault, prior to determining parenting time, the court shall follow the provisions of subsection (4) of this section. In determining the best interests of the child for purposes of parenting time, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

(I) The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;

(II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;

(III) 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;

(IV) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;

(V) 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;

(VI) 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;

(VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;

(VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;

(IX) and (X) Repealed.

(XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.


Clearly, different factors apply to different types of parenting time cases. But, remember, your case is individual to your own circumstances. Whether a party is in the military and is deployed often or one party is a stay-at-home parent or both parties are disabled and home all day or both parties work: Parenting time cases can be difficult to deal with on one’s own.


Call us today for help in preparing for and navigating through your parenting time case. Give us a call. We can help.

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