Time With Our Kids

Time with our kids is just about the most important thing to parents.  We want to be there to watch them grow up and to help them develop a sense of shared values and tradition.  That’s why splitting up parenting time can be the most difficult part of any divorce.  Respecting each other as parents is a sound basis for developing excellent, child-focused parenting plans.

“Custody” or Parenting Time?

Colorado courts don’t use the term “Custody” when it comes to kids.  “Custody” is an old concept which the law has pulled apart into two distinct types of parental responsibility – parenting time and decision making

If you break down the phrase “parenting time” you’ll find out that it, makes perfect sense. This is your time to act as a parent. The phrase carries responsibility. You must “parent” during this time – homework, discipline, talk about issues, read with the kids, etc. The phrase is as much about your responsibilities as it is about time with your children.

How much parenting time you get, and when you exercise it, is decided by the court “in the best interests of the child.”  Notice carefully the only perspective the court must, by law, consider. The court views your parenting time from the child’s perspective. If time with you is good for the child then you’ll get it – if not, you won’t.

Of course, time with a parent is critical for a child. It’s why most court’s move toward the parents sharing parenting time equally, or “50/50″ division of parenting time, if both parents can, and want to, spend that much time with their kids. As with all things in a divorce proceeding, though, there are countless reasons a court might vary from an equal split.

I Want My Rights!

Many good parents come into our office talking about their “rights” to the kids – their rights to time, their rights to make decisions, etc.  And it wasn’t so long ago that the law and courts looked at parenting time issues from the same perspective.  Those days, however, have ended.  The sole standard for deciding parenting time and decision making issues is what’s in the best interests of the child.

It is the child’s perspective that counts for the courts.  Looking at things from the perspective of the child, what is in their best interest?  Is time with mom on weekends good for the kids?  Is it in their best interests?  With all of the activities this child is involved in, should we be breaking up their time this way?  The parenting time analysis centers around how a schedules works for kids, not adults.

While parenting time is always filled with fun activities and maybe even just hanging out, it is first and foremost a responsibility.  Courts often have concerns about whether homework is getting done and whether the kids are getting to all of their activities.  As a parent, it’s your job to be sure these important things are getting done.

“Child Focused”

The term “child focused” arises from the legal standard, “best interests of the child“, but is specifically directed at the development of a successful parenting plan.

Child focused means your parenting plan is primarily focused on the needs and activities of your children and is highly customized to meet those needs. For example, a parenting plan is child focused if it takes into account the fact that your daughter has soccer practice on Tuesdays, games Saturday, and spelling tests on Friday mornings. A child focused parenting plan asks, “what is the best schedule to support her in these activities?”

Child focused plans also address developmental needs. For example, parenting plans for very young kids will probably look very different than plans for teenagers. Identifying the developmental needs for your children early on will help guide the development of a child focused parenting plan.

Producing a truly child focused parenting plan is difficult. It really requires dedication of the parents to set aside their disputes and honestly look at the needs of the children. It’s work. But it will make all the difference in the development of your kids if you do it right – and, if you do it together.

Colorado Divorce – Dividing Up Kids?

Talking about "50/50" or "60/40" makes it sound like we're treating the kids like a bank account.

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