Understanding components of child custody in Colorado

Any Colorado resident who has gone through a divorce knows the pain and challenges that can be involved in the process. For families with minor children, one of the most emotional components of divorce is the determination of child custody. By its very nature, such an agreement results in parents and children losing time with each other that they had previously enjoyed.

Colorado law focuses its efforts on identifying what is in the best interest of a child and attempts to maintain all positive relationships between parents and children where possible. Courts identify legal and physical custody arrangements for children in a divorce. If you are facing or contemplating a divorce, it can be helpful to understand the two types of custody that will be awarded.

What is legal custody?

Legal custody is a term that refers to parental ability to make decisions on behalf of minor children. These decisions can include where a child attends school, which doctor he or she will see and other similar factors.

Legal custody in Colorado can be awarded solely, meaning that one parent has full responsibility for such decisions and does not need to consult with the other parent before making major choices for the child. Legal custody can also be awarded jointly, meaning that both parents must work cooperatively and both be involved in all major decision for their children.

What is physical custody?

Physical custody outlines the living arrangements for children with parents post-divorce. Like legal custody, physical custody can be awarded to one or both parents. Regardless of whether child custody is to be joint or sole, it affects the ultimate determination of child support as the amount of time that children are with each parent is one factor in this type of support.

Once the custody status is identified, a parenting plan is created that outlines specific dates about where a child will be on given days. The exception to this is in cases where only one parent has custody and no visitation is allowed for the other parent. This can happen in situations where abuse or other circumstances that would be considered potentially harmful to children are involved.

Children's welfare comes first

The state of Colorado acknowledges that active involvement on the part of both parents is the preferred custody structure. However, when such a determination would be considered against a child's best interest, courts can and will make alternative custody decisions. In the end, it is the goal of the law to protect children.

If you are in a divorce process and have minor children, it is important that you secure professional legal help to navigate through the decisions involving you and your children.