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 Colorado are 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 parenting rights.

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.

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