A parenting plan is a legal document used to guide unmarried anddivorced parents in decision-making, parenting time, and managing various childcare issues.
Parenting plans in Colorado include, at a minimum:
- Agreement between the parties regarding parental responsibilities (decision-making);
- Basic schedule that reflects when the child(ren) will spend time with each parent on a regular and ongoing basis;
- Parenting time schedule for holidays and vacations;
- Plan for resolving any potential disputes, such as attending family counseling or mediation.
A detailed parenting plan reduces the risk for future disputes and misunderstandings about each parent’s rights and responsibilities.. Parents are encouraged to include more than the information listed above if they believe it will be helpful.
In the past, issues related to child care and specifically, a parent’s time with children, were called “custody”. Colorado replaced the term “custody” with “parental responsibilities” to avoid a sense of possession of the child. “Parental responsibilities” emphasizes the needs of the child and the benefit of having both parents involved in a child’s life.
Legal Assistance for Parenting Plans
The parenting plan is one of the most important aspects of settlement negotiations. Parents are asked to submit a proposed parenting plan to the court, but if they are unable to agree on any issue, the court will make the final decision. Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes provides legal guidance regarding parenting plans.
The courts consider several factors when approving or designing a parenting plan for a family. According to C.R.S. § 14-10-124, the factors considered by the court in determining a parenting plan include:
(I) The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
(II) The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
(III) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
(IV) The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
(V) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, except that a disability alone shall not be a basis to deny or restrict parenting time;
(VI) The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
(VII) Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
(VIII) The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
(IX) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect under section 18-6-401, C.R.S., or under the law of any state, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence;
(X) Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spousal abuse;
(XI) The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.
ADD Parental Responsibilities factors
Most parents agree that negotiating a parenting plan without court interference is ideal because it puts those who understand the child best in control of the situation. However, this is not always a feasible option when parents are struggling to communicate.
If you want to ensure your parental rights are protected or you need legal guidance regarding a parenting plan, contact Montgomery Little & Soran, P.C. at 303-773-8100.