Instead of the words custody and visitation, the term “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities” (APR) is used to describe the process for determining these issues in Colorado. Whether parents are divorcing, were never married or just want orders concerning the children, this legal process addresses the two most crucial custody and visitation matters: parenting time and the authority to make major decisions for and about the child.
The Parenting Time Aspect
“Parenting time” is the schedule for the child’s daily life. In APR, the daily visitation schedule, arrangements for drop-off and pick-up, and holidays and vacations are all set. This way, each parent knows what times they have with the child, who is responsible for rides between homes, and clear direction on other scheduling issues.
You can come to an agreement over parenting time with the other parent on your own or with the help of your attorneys. You can also attend mediation, during which a neutral third party will help you reach an agreement or go to court and have the judge decide. When the court handles parenting time schedules, it must use the “best interest of the child” principle found in state laws and will base its decision after weighing several factors, including:
- What each parent wants, and what the child wants if he or she is able to independently and maturely express preferences.
- The level of adjustment the child has to his or her home, community and school.
- The mental and physical health of all the parties in the case.
- How well each parent is able to encourage the child to engage with the other parent.
- How each parent behaved with the child in the past.
- Whether a parent has been involved in child or spousal abuse in the past.
- The ability of each parent to put the child’s needs before his or her own.
Another major part of an APR process is to determine who has the authority to make decisions for the child in major areas, such as medical treatment, religion, education and extracurricular activities. One parent may receive complete authority to make those decisions, or it could be evenly shared between both parents. If the court has to decide who will make decisions, it will consider various factors, including whether both parents can make decisions jointly, how much each parent has been involved in the child’s life in the past, and what the impact of joint decision-making authority would be on the child’s relationships with both parents. A parent who has abused a child in the past with documented evidence will not receive decision-making authority. However, a parent with a documented incident of spousal abuse may be granted this authority if the court feels making decisions together will not pose a risk to the child or the abused parent.
Child Support Matters
Finally, an APR action often covers cover child support, including the amount of each parent’s obligation. There are state guidelines to calculate support, but this can become complex when a parent or both parents have a lot of assets. If your child support case involves extraordinary expenses and/or a high level of assets, speak to an attorney. This is a serious obligation that will affect both your finances and your child for years to come, so it’s not an area where you will want to take any chances.
APR and Your Child
Naturally, APR has a substantial impact on your child’s life. It will decide where the child spends his or her time and when, and which parent or parents have the right to make major decisions that will impact the child’s life. Holidays and vacations are also determined by an APR action, in addition to other important matters that are a part of your child’s life. It also may bring major changes into the child’s world, which can make this action more stressful for everyone involved.
In many cases, it’s better for your child and everyone involved to come to an agreement over the matters addressed in an APR. People tend to be more satisfied with agreements and compromises they made themselves than what a court decides. The court litigation process over these matters can also be very stressful for everyone involved, especially the child, who may feel as if he or she has no voice in the proceedings. Since this will determine the minimal amount of time you’re entitled to have your child and your ability to make big choices for him or her, it’s difficult to overstate the importance and impact of an APR.
Speak to the experienced team at Burnham Law about your APR case. With something as important as your child’s life and your role as a parent on the line, having an aggressive and experienced legal team on your side can really make a difference.
Contact Burnham Law today
Call 303.647.9767 or fill out this form to get started