For the Sake Of Colorado’s Children of Divorce

Allocation of parental responsibilities is the legal term in Colorado that defines traditional roles of parenting when two unmarried people share a child. Allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) is what is used in a divorce that involved children or parents who were never married. APR is used to determine:
Parenting time or visitation
Decision making

Under Colorado family law, every effort is made to keep both parents involved as much as possible, in the best interest of the child. It is very rare for Colorado family courts to intervene on couples who can manage their own parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. Under the eyes of the law, no parent is more important than the other, and only in extreme circumstances will either visitation or decision-making rights be revoked.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Parental Rights

Each parent of a child has inherent rights that are protected by the law, regardless of circumstance or designation of parental responsibilities. These rights include:

  • Parenting time
  • Decision-making ability
  • Right to discipline the child
  • Right to manage and control the child’s earnings, income, and property
  • Right to have the child bear the parent’s name
  • Right to prevent adoption without parental consent

Parental Responsibilities

Parenting is a reciprocal relationship, because children are not property, but are living, breathing children who require nurture, love, and care. In addition to having rights as a parent, each parent also has responsibilities in raising the child. Having custody, or parenting time, does not simply include the physical location of the child, but requires a certain degree of care. Some responsibilities that a parent has to the child include (but are not limited to):

  • Providing a safe living environment for the child.
    • Utilities
    • Safe, clean living space
    • Their own bed in a bedroom with a window and door.
  • Medical treatment.
  • Educating the child.
  • Religious exposure.
  • Attentive care (or a third-party caretaker in the parent’s absence).
  • Providing discipline.
  • Feeding and clothing the child.
  • Keeping the child reasonably safe from harm.
  • Protecting the child from abuse, neglect, exploitation.
  • Providing a safe place to play.
  • Allowing child ownership over their own body.
  • Allowing the involvement of both parents.

Parents do not have absolute power over their children under federal law and are subject to criminal punishment for violating their child’s rights by abandoning, abusing, exploiting, or neglecting their child.

Co-parenting and Colorado State Law

Colorado family law supports co-parenting and the inclusion of both parents in the child-rearing rights and responsibilities. As far as the state is concerned, there is no such thing as 50-50 parenting. Parents should be able to manage parenting time and decision making based on what is best for the child and most feasible for the living situation. For instance, if the parents live close to one another, the child should be able to freely visit each parent and have both parents at important events. However, if one parent lives in Arapahoe County while the other lives in Routt County, or even in another state, the parent where the child goes to school will likely have more physical custody.

It is important to understand that physical living arrangements do not influence decision-making. Each parent, regardless of which the child lives with, should be able to make decisions regarding education, discipline, religion, healthcare, and other child-rearing decisions. Unless parental rights have been revoked or there is a validated reason that one parent should have more decision-making ability, most decisions should be mutual, and mediators are available to help.

Parental Responsibilities Modifications

Rather than revoke the parental rights of a parent who has circumstances that make them unfit — abuse, substance addiction, poverty — Colorado family law makes provisions to still include the parent in the child’s life. Some of the modifications that may be made to parental responsibility designations include:

  • Supervised visitation
  • Modification to child support
  • Counseling or mediation
  • Temporary full-custody to the other parent

If your family needs to modify or change your parental responsibility plans, you can do so on your own if co-parenting is civil, or you can employ the legal services of a mediator or a trusted child custody attorney.

For a Family Lawyer Who Puts Your Family First, Contact Kelli J. Malcolm

The children of Colorado deserve loving, nurturing homes where they feel safe, loved, and valued. Colorado family law strives to help support a loving, family environment for all children, even those whose parents are separated or divorced.

Kelli J. Malcolm is a family lawyer in Aurora who has dedicated her legal career to helping support the best familial outcomes for families in Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas Adams, and Jefferson counties. She fights relentlessly to defend the rights of Colorado children and their parents. If you are in the middle of a divorce or you are attempting to co-parent with a difficult, toxic, or abusive co-parent, contact an experienced child custody lawyer near you — Kelli J. Malcolm. Schedule your complimentary consultation today!


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