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A Basic Look at Child Custody Laws

Colorado is notable for its unique child custody laws because of the state’s ‘child-first’ approach to custody hearings. The Centennial State makes its decisions on child custody cases based on the best interest of the child, with the child being seen not as an asset to be distributed, but as a human being in need of proper care and love.

When it comes to Colorado’s child custody laws, it can be complex and complicated, which is why we asked these expert divorce attorneys some basic questions.

What Is Colorado’s Parenting Plan Concept?

Divorced couples in Colorado must submit a Parenting Plan to the Court if they want to initiate child custody hearings. The Parenting Plan is a mutually-agreed upon guidelines that govern the couple’s visitation rights, visitation schedules, allowed activities, holiday rights, and the like. It’s a document that outlines how parents are to spend their time with their child, and this has to be agreed upon by both parties concerned. If couples cannot agree on a Parenting Plan, the court will take charge and create one for the couple.

Take note that, unlike some states, Colorado does not favor mothers over fathers; Colorado doesn’t decide custody based on the gender of the parent. Instead, it will decide based on what the court thinks will be in the best interest of the child.

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What Is Parental Responsibility?

Colorado is one of the few states in the country that is pioneering the concept of dropping the terms “sole custody” and “joint custody,” and instead, replacing it with the term “parental responsibility”. Parental Responsibility, which can either be sole or joint, sets forth stringent rules and regulations that both parents are compelled to follow to the letter. Parental Responsibility, as its name suggests, imposes specific responsibilities to both parents, which they must fulfill if they want to enjoy their child’s company.

Does Colorado Have Child Support?

Yes, Colorado has child support, but unlike other states, child support in Colorado is paid for by both parents, especially if they have joint parental responsibility. Depending on numerous factors, the court will decide on how much each parent will pay, and the judge will look at each case contextually. Also, of note: the number of hours/days that a parent spends with their child is not a determining factor in deciding how much a parent should pay.

Can I Refuse Visitation Rights if My Ex-spouse Stops Paying Child Support?

Again, Colorado is unique among other states because it doesn’t exactly bar parents from seeing their child should the parent fail to pay child support. Colorado courts believe that child support payments and visitation rights are two independent issues that should be tackled separately.

Who Gets Custody of a Child After Divorce Hearings?

Colorado does not have an automatic custody system that places the child immediately with either parent following a divorce. Instead, Colorado courts use specific statutory factors on a case-to-case basis to award custody to a parent, mainly if the children in question are minors.

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