Determining who receives what during a divorce is a crucial element of the process. Couples who are divorcing typically hire lawyers because they can’t agree on how to share their assets or custody. In this article, we will discuss custody arrangements and the benefits and drawbacks of joint custody.
What is Joint Custody?
The legal definition of Joint Custody is:
“in divorce actions, a decision by the court (often upon agreement of the parents) that the parents will share custody of a child. There are two types of custody, physical and legal. Joint physical custody (instead of one parent having custody with the other having visitation), does not mean exact division of time with each parent, but can be based on reasonable time with each parent either specifically spelled out (certain days, weeks, holidays, alternative periods) or based on stated guidelines and shared payment of costs of raising the child. Joint legal custody means that both parents can make decisions for the child, including medical treatment, but where possible they should consult the other.”
Most judges would agree that joint custody is best for children because it allows them to have both parents involved and part of their upbringing. However, this is not always the case.
Situations where joint custody is not recommended:
- When the parents live a significant distance apart and the child would need to travel constantly between homes
- If a parent has a history of legal issues, joint custody, in some cases, is not the safest choice for the children
- If one parent has significant mental health issues
- One parent has a history of neglecting the children.
Every situation is different and a judge will take into consideration all things, including what the child prefers to do. Remember, a divorce is no easy thing for any kid to see their parents go through and the goal with figuring out custody is to ensure the child and parents both are in the right situation and on the same page.
Joint Custody in Colorado:
Colorado does not allow for joint or sole custody. The word “parental responsibility” is used in Colorado, and it can be joint or primary. You have shared parental responsibility if you share overnight visitation with the minor child equally. The other parent is regarded to have main parenting responsibility if one parent has less than 90 overnight visits with the minor child.
When you seek custody in Colorado, you’re asking the court to decide where your child lives and who has the authority to make decisions about your child’s life. When establishing a parenting agreement, the court considers all custody matters seriously, and the law requires judges to consider all of the following factors (described in detail below):
- The child’s wishes (if old enough and mature enough)
- Tach parent’s opinion
- The child’s relationship with each parent and siblings
- The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
- The parent’s and child’s mental and physical health (though if a parent is disabled, it does not alone mean the court will deny or restrict parenting time)
- Each parent’s ability to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent
- Whether the parent’s past involvement with the child shows values, time commitment, and mutual support
- The physical proximity of the parent’s homes to each other, and
- The ability of each parent to place the child’s needs ahead of their own. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-124 (1.5)(a).)
- The judge may instead find that it’s in the child’s best interests to have one primary physical home and spend specified periods of time at the other parent’s home—sole legal custody with rights of visitation. If the parents are going to have relatively equal parenting time, the court would order joint physical custody.*
At the end of the day, divorce is extremely difficult for everyone involved. It is important to keep light of the children! throughout the process and make the best decisions for them. We understand that divorcing couples do not always see eye to eye and that is where we are here to help. If you need legal consultation or representation in regards to your child’s custody, please reach out to Alexander and Ewert and schedule an appointment with us now.