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Determining Joint or Sole Custody

July 1, 2020

When divorce happens, no one truly wins; families are split and more often than not, terrible things are said to all involved and those floating around the situation (such as friends, family members, etc.). The one who often lose out the hardest are the children. While it’s better to have parents dissolve their marriage and live happily separately, rather than grow up in a hostile home filled with anger, mistrust, and pain, having a family live apart from each other, while common enough, is difficult.

As such, determining parental responsibility (the Colorado version of custody) and particularly the type of parental responsibility, can be a nightmare for the parents to fight over with their lawyers and/or in court. Colorado Springs family law attorneys work tirelessly to negotiate responsibility terms prior to going to court, but things don’t always work out so nicely. Many parents bicker and argue to the last breath and swear up and down that the other parent is unfit to raise the child; harsh words are said and taken to court where the judge then needs to deliver a parental responsibility ruling. The two versions of responsibility, similar to custody, are sole and joint. Though the terms seem simple enough, there are some nuances to them.

The requisite for joint parental responsibility is if the parent has at least 90 (or more) overnight visits with the child per year. When this is the case, both parents have a say, though not always equally, in the education, religion, and medical needs of the child or children as they grow up. The parents must, at a minimum, discuss these decisions prior to making them.

Each family arrives at their own unique parental responsibility agreement, either through negotiation via their Colorado Springs family law attorneys, or a ruling from a judge. Some variations include:

  • A 50/50 split

  • A 75/25 split throughout the month, meaning one week at one parent’s home versus three at the other’s

  • And weekend/extended visitations

If the decision is left to the courts, depending on the child’s (/children’s) age(s) and maturity, they may have a say in which parent they want to (primarily, if not fully) live with. The judge will take these wishes into consideration, but they are not a determining factor.

Sole custody simply means that one parent will make all of the decisions regarding the minor’s education, religion, and medical needs as they are raised. Neither joint, nor sole, custody necessarily determines any child support payments, though it plays its role in determining the amount to be paid. If developments change in the minor’s life, or in the relationship between the parents, a modification to the parenting schedule can be modified. In order to change custody rulings of the minor, you will need to prove the child’s wellbeing is in danger due to their current situation and is best handled alongside a Colorado Springs family law attorney.

Determining custody is a tricky subject and often a point of contention between divorcing parents. It is best to contact our offices to speak with an expert Colorado Springs family law attorney to help you ensuring that your rights as a parent are met and that you receive the custody determination that is fair and just, as well as ensuring that your former spouse has their fair share of time and visitation with the child. Call us today for more information.