Parenting Time (Visitation)

“Parenting Time” is a legal term used in family law and child custody circles for what might otherwise be termed “visitation.” Parenting time is one of the cornerstone aspects of any child custody or allocation of parental responsibility cases, including divorce cases with children.

Specifically, a mother or father’s parenting time is the time allotted to him or her, in a court order, to spend with the children. Colorado parenting time orders can come in many forms and with an array of contingencies to them.

When Colorado statute gave up use of the term “custody,” notions of one parent having “physical custody” were replaced with one parent potentially having majority parenting time. Currently, judicial trends or norms tend towards equal, or 50/50, parenting time being much more common than in decades past.

Parenting time orders are often arrived at with the parties agreeing to a specific visitation schedule. In cases in which agreements cannot be reached, a judge or magistrate will ultimately decide what the allocation of visitation will be between the two parents, or parties in cases in which one litigant is a non-parent. Legal battles over an appropriate parenting time schedule are quite common, with each parent wanting as much time with their children as possible.

In Colorado, courts are required to make orders regarding parental responsibilities, including parenting time, which are in a child’s best interest, as per C.R.S. 14-10-124. Factors looked at may include a parent’s relationship and involvement with a child, their time commitment to that child, and their ability to promote a relationship between the child and the other parent.

There are varying types of parenting time and schedules generally entail detailed provisions regarding each. Specifically, parenting time schedules will include:

The core aspect of the parenting time schedule is the regular time, which is what the parents will generally go by or have throughout the year, but for holidays or vacations. Regular parenting time schedules come in many forms and parties have the opportunity to adapt schedules to reflect the realities of their lives and children’s needs. Holiday parenting time schedules generally entail major holidays, which are generally rotated between the parents. There is no set holiday schedule and some families make provisions for differing religious or other holidays important to them. Holiday parenting time generally supersedes regular time and parties may lose some regular time due to the other parent exercising a holiday. With the rotation of holidays, things generally work out fairly in the end. Vacations are separate from holidays and can be taken in week blocks or in intermittent days. Vacation parenting time will generally supersede regular parenting time, but not holidays. As with regular parenting time, courts will generally impose specific holiday or vacation orders if the parties cannot reach agreement. Most orders also contain provisions for telephonic or similar parenting time for a parent to exercise while a child is physically with the other party.

In some instances in which safety concerns arise and are proven, orders may be entered for “supervised parenting time.” Supervised parenting time entails a third person being present for the parent’s visitation time when that parent poses a risk to the children. Supervision can either be done professionally, whether through a facility or private supervisor, or with an agreed upon third party, such as a relative or friend. There is generally a cost for professional supervision, which is normally paid for by the parent in need of that supervision. Orders for supervised time are generally temporary in nature, running only until the risk factors are ameliorated. When supervised time is ordered, the duration and frequency are generally much less than with a regular schedule.

Parenting time orders can be changed or modified until a child reaches the age of majority, 18. Modifications can be made to a parenting time schedule for minimal adjustments, such as changing the holiday schedule or perhaps exchange time or locations. They can also be significant, such as a change in primary residence from one parenting to another. C.R.S. 14-10-129 sets for the standards for modifying parenting time and different thresholds must be met, depending on the degree of modification sought.

When parenting time orders are violated by one parent, remedies exist under C.R.S. 14-10-129.5 for purposes of enforcing the visitation orders and ensuring future compliance.

If you find yourself in need of legal help related to a parenting time dispute, rest assured that the Denver family law attorneys at Plog & Stein can help. We have the experience and know-how to protect your rights and advocate for your interests.

Contact us online, or call us at (303) 781-0322, to schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team.

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