Every day in Colorado, previously married individuals reach their breaking points with their spouse and decide to file for a divorce, although many people wait for quite a while before they file. One of the most common reasons people give for remaining in an unhappy marriage is concern about the impact of the divorce on their children or on their parental relationship.

Once you understand the way that the Colorado courts approach parental relationships in a divorce, you may feel more confident moving forward with the end of your marriage.

Colorado doesn’t call it custody anymore

For decades, parents going through a divorce in Colorado would need to file paperwork to assert their desire for sole or shared custody of their children. However, the term custody implies ownership and focuses more on the rights of the parents than the needs of the children.

As part of a comprehensive update of the family code related to divorce and parental relationships, Colorado lawmakers shifted the language in state statutes from discussions of custody to the more child-centric modern language that focuses on the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities.

Your parental rights include the right to have a say in the major decisions about your child, such as their religious practices, education or medical care, as well as your right to play a role in their life. Your parental responsibilities include an obligation to provide support and parental guidance. You cannot seek an allocation of parental rights without also incurring an obligation to fulfill parental responsibilities to your children simultaneously.

The focus is always on what will be best for the kids

Colorado is one of the majority of states that currently recognizes the best interests of the children as the most important guiding principle and standard in the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. The state recognizes the important role that each parent plays in the life, emotional health and social stability of children, although the courts also recognize that certain situations may be dangerous for children, such as parental addiction, neglect or abuse.

When you ask the courts to find a reasonable way to split up parental rights and responsibilities during a Colorado divorce or because you have ended a non-marital relationship with the other parent of your children, the courts will look carefully at your family circumstances before making a ruling that they believe will be in the best interests of your children.