Allocation of Parental Responsibilities | Parenting Time, Custody & Visitation

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR) in Colorado is what determines the traditional notions of child custody and visitation. This legal principal is used both in the traditional divorce, when parents were never married, or in rare situations are married but don’t want to divorce, but need orders concerning the children.

Thus APR is the legal process designed to address parenting rights and responsibilities. It addresses the two major child custody and visitation issues: 1) parenting time and 2) decision-making.

Parenting time issues include what the regular parenting time schedule should be for the children. This means day to day visitations schedules, pick-up and drop-off arrangements, as well as holiday and vacation schedule. Parenting time decisions are made pursuant to what is in the best interest of the minor. By statute in determining the best interest of the child the court looks at the following factors found under the Colorado Revised Statutes section 14-10-124:

  1. The wishes of the child’s parents as to parenting time;
  2. The wishes of the child if he or she is sufficiently mature to express reasoned and independent preferences as to the parenting time schedule;
  3. 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;
  4. The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  5. 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;
  6. The ability of the parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other party;
  7. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support;
  8. The physical proximity of the parties to each other as this relates to the practical considerations of parenting time;
  9. 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;
  10. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse as defined in subsection (4) of this section, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence;
  11. The ability of each party to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs.

Decision-making is the second issue addressed in an APR action. Decision-making addresses how major decisions such as decisions concerning medical treatment, educational choices, religion, and extracurricular activities are made. More clearly, the decision-making arm of the APR process determines who makes those decisions for the minor child. The parties can be required to make those decisions jointly or one parent can be given sole decision making responsibilities. The factors looked at in determining how major decisions should be made for the children are the found under the Colorado Revised Statutes section 14-10-124 and are the following:

  1. Credible evidence of the ability of the parties to cooperate and to make decisions jointly;
  2. Whether the past pattern of involvement of the parties with the child reflects a system of values, time commitment, and mutual support that would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child;
  3. Whether an allocation of mutual decision-making responsibility on any one or a number of issues will promote more frequent or continuing contact between the child and each of the parties;
  4. 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. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, then it shall not be in the best interests of the child to allocate mutual decision-making with respect to any issue over the objection of the other party or the legal representative of the child.
  5. Whether one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse as defined in subsection (4) of this section, which factor shall be supported by credible evidence. If the court makes a finding of fact that one of the parties has been a perpetrator of spouse abuse, then it shall not be in the best interests of the child to allocate mutual decision-making responsibility over the objection of the other party or the legal representative of the child, unless the court finds that the parties are able to make shared decisions about their children without physical confrontation and in a place and manner that is not a danger to the abused party or the child.

The final issue addressed in an APR action is what the child support obligation should be set at. For more information on how the court makes child support determinations see Child Support.

An APR action can be initiated by a person who falls into one of the following categories outlined in C.R.S. section 14-10-123:

  1. By a parent
  2. By a person other than a parent, by filing a petition seeking the allocation of parental responsibilities for the child in the county where the child is permanently resident or where the child is found, but only if the child is not in the physical care of one of the child’s parents;
  3. By a person other than a parent who has had the physical care of a child for a period of six months or more, if such action is commenced within six months of the termination of such physical care; or
  4. By a parent or person other than a parent who has been granted custody of a child or who has been allocated parental responsibilities through a juvenile court order entered pursuant to section 19-1-104 (6), C.R.S., by filing a certified copy of the juvenile court order in the county where the child is permanently resident. Such order shall be treated in the district court as any other decree issued in a proceeding concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities.