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Mother’s Rights and Parenting Time: Do Moms Have the Advantage in Colorado Courts?

Clients faced with parenting time issues often ask where the court’s loyalty lies when it comes to who gets custody – does the court favor mom or dad? Today, the term “custody” has been replaced with “parenting time,” and it’s not just the terms that are changing with the times. Although fathers are often quick to raise a suspicious eyebrow, the answer is the same no matter who asks the question. Colorado courts are remarkably gender-neutral, and the most important factors used to determine which parent is entitled to more parenting time really depend on each family’s specific facts.

Mothers may seem as though they have an advantage before the court in terms of parenting time because moms tend to be the primary caretaker in the household, especially in terms of caring for infants and younger children. However, having a stay-at-home mom is no longer the norm. In many Colorado homes, the economy has forced both parents into the workforce, or in the alternative, fathers are taking off their ties and pushing up their sleeves as stay-at-home dads.

Factors Influencing the Allocation of Parenting Time

How does the court decide who gets how much parenting time? The standard the court uses, and which every parent should plant firmly in their head, is that of the best interest of the child. The court gives principal consideration to the child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. Courts also want to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the child.

By Colorado statute, the court considers a myriad of factors for establishing parenting time, including, but not limited to: the parents’ wishes, the child’s wishes, the child’s involvement with family, school, and the community, the ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love and affection between the child and the other parent, the health of the parents and the child, and which parent has primarily cared for the child in the past. Other factors the court will consider are whether one parent perpetrated spousal or child abuse, or abused drugs or alcohol.

Each Family and Situation is Unique

The best parenting schedule really depends on each family’s particular situation. In a great many cases, splitting a child’s time equally between parents may be the best thing for a family going through a divorce. Depending on the proximity of each parent’s home, it may be in the child’s best interest to have portions of the week split between each parent, such as the child spending school nights at one parent’s home and weekend nights with the other parent. Splitting parenting time during the week gets significantly more difficult the farther apart parents live. This distance may warrant a parenting schedule where the child lives with one parent during the school year and the other parent during vacation time.

Final Thoughts

Whether parents are able to reach a parenting schedule negotiating and agreeing between themselves, or whether parents require a court to help make those decisions for them, each parent should understand that their children are not something to be won or lost in the divorce.

If you are considering a divorce or separation, consult an experienced family law attorney experienced in parenting schedules to advise you as to what kind of plan would best suit your family’s needs.

Posted December 24, 2014
by: MFL Team

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