Oftentimes, clients will call and they say, “How is the judge going to decide parenting time? What is parenting time?” Parenting time is established by a statute called the best interest statute, it’s Colorado Revised Statute 14-10-124. If you take a look at the statute it’s got different parts to it. The first part you’ll see is a section that deals with decision making. That’s important for you to understand if there has been domestic violence in the relationship that can be established, because if domestic violence has been established against one of the parents, then decision making will be awarded to the parent who is not the perpetrator of domestic violence.
The other way that parenting orders are entered is when the court considers all of the factors in the best interest statute and that would include parenting time, holidays, and how the child is picked up and dropped off for parenting time and when that is to occur. So a typical custody case involving either a divorce, or legal separation, or an allocation of parental responsibilities is going to require the parties, the lawyers to get together, go over the best interest statute and determine what kind of a parenting plan is fair to the children in the case. It’s not something that’s fair to the parents, but it’s in the best interest of the children.
It’s also not based upon fitness of parents, although that issue certainly is relevant for the court. An example of that is whether either parent has a mental illness or an emotional illness that may affect parenting, or something like substance abuse or alcohol use which is a factor in what the court does for parenting time.