Legal vs. Physical Custody
Child Custody Lawyer in Colorado Springs, Parker & Pueblo
Some jurisdictions make a distinction between legal and physical custody,
that is, decision-making parental rights and residential parenting rights.
The state of Colorado does not refer to this distinction as "legal
vs. physical" but rather makes a distinction between parents with
"primary residential parental responsibility" and those with
"decision-making custody." If you are considering
divorce and you have children, part of the process will be coming to a
child custody agreement. The Colorado Springs divorce attorneys at
Clawson & Clawson, LLP can help you arrive at the most favorable custody agreement possible.
Primary Residential Parental Responsibility
If a parent is given custody of their children in a child custody agreement,
whether joint or sole, they maintain primary residential parental responsibility.
Essentially, this means that the parent has their children living with
them all or at least part of the time. Many child custody agreements in
joint, meaning that both parents have their children living at their residence
part of the time. Some of the responsibilities that come with residential
parental responsibility (physical custody) include:
- Taking children to and from school
- Paying for their everyday expenses
- Accompanying them to appointments and extracurricular activities
Primary residential parental responsibility involves the parent's right
and responsibility to physical custody of their children. This is distinct
from the principle of legal custody, or "decision-making custody."
What is decision-making custody?
The state of Colorado family codes explain the principle of decision-making
responsibility as the right of a parent to make major life decisions on
behalf of their underage children. This goes beyond just having your children
under your physical care. Custody is twofold, and this side of the custody
coin is the responsibility and right that a parent has to make decisions
for their children's wellbeing. Some of the responsibilities that
come with decision-making custody include:
- Choosing where a child will attend school
- Choosing medical treatment
- Making the choice to travel with children to certain destinations
Decision-making custodial agreements can be modified if it can be shown
that a parent's decisions have already caused or will likely endanger
a child's physical health or will impair a child's emotional development,
according to § 14-10-131 of the CRS. Decision-making custodial agreements
can also be modified as a necessary effect of a physical custody modification.
Modifying Custody or Decision-Making Responsibility
According to the Colorado Revised Statutes, a motion for modification of
a child custody agreement will only be granted if the proposed modification
serves the best interests of the child. The court will determine what
those "best interests" are by comprehensively evaluating facts
such as parenting history, the children's relationship with both parents,
parental income, etc. Unless both parents can come to a modification agreement,
the family court will retain the right to allocate physical and decision-making
Clawson & Clawson, LLP: A Trusted Colorado Springs Family Law Firm
Contact a divorce attorney at Clawson & Clawson, LLP today to learn how our firm can help you
arrive at a favorable custodial agreement. We understand that these cases
are often emotionally charged and extremely difficult due to the intimate
nature of them, which is why we emphasize compassionate client service
that does not compromise our tough stance in or outside of court to ensure
that you get the results you need. Call today for a free initial evaluation
of your case.