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Child Custody: A Dying Phrase in Colorado

When you hear people talk about issues involving children, you are likely to hear the word custody being thrown around pretty frequently. However, in Colorado, the term “custody” has essentially become a thing of the past.  Instead, Colorado relies on the term “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” when determining an appropriate “custody” arrangement for your child.  But what does the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities mean? This article is aimed at discussing parental responsibilities, the proper lingo, and some of the reasons behind the change.

Allocation of Responsibilities

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (or “APR” for short) is an umbrella term for three key areas of domestic relations cases involving children: parenting time, decision-making, and child support. Parenting Time was formerly known as physical custody, while Decision-Making was formerly known as legal custody.  Parenting time, decision-making, and child support must all be considered and ultimately determined in an initial APR or divorce matter involving children.

Why Change?

Colorado is considered a progressive state when it comes to domestic relations law.  One of the steps indicative of its progressiveness is the decision to replace the term “custody” with “parenting time”. By replacing the term “custody” with “parenting time”, Colorado has shifted the focus away from the parents and instead has placed the primary focus upon the children and their needs.  

Rather than focusing on which parent will “win” the “custody battle”, Colorado instead focuses on creating a parenting time schedule that is in the best interests of the child.  Moreover, the term “custody” itself alludes to one person having control, possession, or “custody” over another.  Therefore, part of the change of language is due in part to the recognition that the parent-child relationship is not one of possession or control, but rather one of a familial nature. By removing this archaic term from the majority of its statutes, Colorado has ensured that APR matters focus continually and exclusively on the best interests of the child.  For that reason (and many others), parenting time and decision-making will always be allocated according to the best interests of the child.

The Child’s Best Interest

Colorado courts have made it clear that their focus will always be on the child.  It is important to keep these terms and standards in mind when going through your own APR matter. There’s nothing quite like throwing around the term “custody” or referring to children as “your child” to get the court to look skeptically at your intentions.

If you are in the middle of a dispute involving children, it’s well worth your time to consult with an attorney. At Modern Family Law we practice exclusively in family law. So take the time to give us a call today and speak with one of our family law attorneys at no cost.

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