Parenting time in Colorado is determined by stipulation of the parties
or a court’s conclusion. While parents can agree through casual
conversation or formal negotiation, any indecision or issues will lead
to a court’s determination.
In Colorado, a court typically determines parenting time by applying the
“best interests of the child” standard. Noted by the state
legislature, this statutory standard is used when co-parenting is difficult
to accomplish due to the parents’ ability, or inability, to work
with one another. The standard is meant to “encourage frequent and
continuing contact between each parent and the minor child,” while
recognizing the parents’ responsibilities and rights in regard to
child-rearing. C.R.S. § 14-10-124(1).
The standard requires the court to consider many relevant factors including
the parents’ wishes and the child’s wishes, if the child is
of sufficient maturity. The court will also considers the parties’
interaction with each other and the child, paying particular attention
to their ability to “encourage the sharing of love, affection, and
contact,” and whether there is a pattern of involvement that “reflects
a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support.” C.R.S.
§ 14-10-124(1.5). Lastly, the child’s surroundings also play
a large role and the court considers any potential adjustments a child
must make to a new home, school, and community.
Ultimately, parents can take one of two routes. Parents can work together
to implement a parenting plan that fits their lifestyle or they can leave
the decision to the court. While parents will know more about their family
than the court, they often cannot work together, leaving the court to
decide parenting time based on the statutory standard rather than intimate
knowledge of the family’s inner-workings.