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.