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October 13, 2023

How will a judge make a decision about allocation of parental responsibilities?

When awarding allocation of parental responsibilities, the judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child, giving the highest consideration to the child’s safety.1 In general, s/he will assume that frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the child is in that child’s “best interest” in most cases but the court recognizes that this is not always appropriate.2

When making a decision about parenting time the judge will consider all relevant factors, including:

  • the wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  • the wishes of the child if s/he is mature enough to state his/her preference as to the parenting time schedule;
  • the interaction and relationship of the child with his/her parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • the child’s adjustment to his/her home, school, and community;
  • the mental and physical health of all people involved; (Note: A disability alone cannot be a reason to deny or restrict parenting time);
  • the ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party (except that, if the court determines that a party is acting to protect the child from witnessing domestic violence or from being a victim of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence, the party’s protective actions will not be considered with respect to this factor);
  • the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child (considering the values shown, the time commitment made, etc.);
  • how close the parties live to each other as this relates to a practical schedule of parenting time; and
  • the ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.3

When making a decision about parental decision-making responsibilities, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including:

  • all of the factors listed above;
  • if the parties can cooperate and make decisions jointly, looking at the past pattern of involvement of the parties as one way to decide this; and
  • if an allocation of mutual (joint) decision-making responsibility on one or more issues would cause more frequent contact between the child and each of the parties;4

When a claim of child abuse or neglectdomestic violence, or sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child has been made in court, the judge must consider the factors discussed in Can a parent who committed abuse against me or my child get parental responsibilities?

Note: The judge will not consider conduct of a parent that does not affect that parent’s relationship to the child and the judge will not presume that one parent is better able to serve the best interests of the child because of that person’s sex.5

In general, a parent will be given parenting time unless, after a hearing, the judge finds that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly harm the child’s emotional development.3

1 C.R.S. §§ 14-10-124; 14-10-123.4
2 C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1)
3 C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1.5)(a),(4)(a)
4 C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1.5)(b)
5 C.R.S. § 14-10-124(2), (3)