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Understanding custody terms and laws in Colorado

Having the right knowledge in a legal situation can make all of the difference. To that end, it is important that Colorado residents understand both the laws and the terms that are used within those laws if they are thinking about going through a divorce and they want to maintain their child custody rights.

The first thing that they should know is that the term "custody" is not one that is even used very often in Colorado. The preferred term is "parental responsibilities."

This is used because it is about more than simply who lives with the child. It is an umbrella term that takes into account things like who has the responsibility to make important decisions on the child's behalf -- decisions that could shape that child's life. It also includes the amount of parenting time that both parties will get.

Among other things, the parent who is allowed to make all of the decisions can choose where the child goes to school, what religion it is exposed to and what type of health care the child will get.

To determine all of this, both parents are asked to draft a parenting plan and submit it to the court. The plans could be the same if they are agreed on or different if they both have different desires for the child. The judge can then consider and approve these plans.

In some cases, the judge may not approve the plans, or the parents may decide not to submit them for some reason. If this happens, the judge then has the legal right and responsibility to make these decisions in a way that best benefits the child.

Source: Women's Law, "Know the Laws: Colorado," July 31, 2014

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