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Legal Information: Colorado


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January 17, 2020

What are "parental responsibilities" and how is it different from custody?

In Colorado, the term “parental responsibilities” is used instead of “custody.”  It refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent to care for his/her child.  When a judge makes a decision about parental responsibilities (called “allocation of parental responsibilities”), this includes decisions about how much parenting time each parent will have with the child and which parent will get decision-making responsibilities for the child.1  The parent who has responsibility for decision-making can decide the child’s upbringing, including his or her education, health care, and religious training.2  With respect to each issue affecting the child, the judge can allocate the decision-making responsibility to both parents jointly (mutual) or to one parent individually (sole) or can order split decision-making.1  A judge will make this decision based on what is in the “best interests of the child,” while placing highest consideration on the child’s safety and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child.3  To read all of the factors that a judge will consider when allocating parental responsibilities and parenting time, go to How will a judge make a decision about allocation of parental responsibilities?

1 See generally C.R.S. § 14-10-124
2 See C.R.S. § 14-10-130(1)
3 C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1.5)