I am often faced with questions from both sides of a case regarding what people often refer to as “50/50 custody.” It is quite often that people indicate they want “50/50″ or state that they’re fighting against their ex who wants “50/50.” Ironically, in the same sentence, some people ask, “what does that mean?”
Keeping in mind that the term “custody” is no longer used in Colorado, people often ask about “50/50″ or “equal custody” related to what we attorneys call “parental responsibility” or “decision making.” By this, I mean the right to make major decisions for the child. This generally relates to major decisions regarding health, education, medical care, religion, and the general welfare of the child. The reality today is that most family law courts in the Denver metropolitan area follow the presumption that joint decision making or “50/50″ legal custody is in the best interest of the children. Thus, I often say that barring instances of substance abuse, domestic violence, severe mental illness, or a demonstrated apathy towards making decisions, people will end up with joint or equal decision making. Battles over decision making or what used to be termed “legal custody” are not as common today as they were in the past. I believe the word is out that, barring extreme circumstances, the court will make it joint.