Allocation of Parental Responsibilities… that is quite the mouthful. In reality, an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities case, or APR case as we like to call it, is not quite as complicated as it sounds. Most people would recognize an APR case as a “custody” case. We don’t use the word “custody” anymore, because too often it brings to mind the struggle to win custody. The now used term of APR better fits the realities of this type of case: the court (or parties) are allocating, or assigning, the aspects of parental responsibility between the parties. Note I said allocating ‘between’ the parties, not to one party or the other. The responsibilities of parenting are divvied up between the parties, which is very different from the notion of one party ‘winning’ custody.
So what actually makes up the “parental responsibilities” portion of an APR case? 1) Parenting Time; 2) Decision Making; and 3) Child Support. Luckily, the meanings of each of these terms are very much what they sound like, but I will address each term briefly.
Parenting Time – where the children are at any given time; which parent is spending uninterrupted time with the children and for what period.
Decision Making – how do the parents make major decisions about the children for matters concerning education, health, religion and usually, extracurricular activities.
According to Colorado statute, the overriding guideline when entering Orders regarding children, including for parenting time and decision making, is what is in the best interests of the child(ren). However, depending on your circumstances, there may be additional standards of review that the court may have to apply to your case.
Child Support – Black’s Law Dictionary (the 6th edition) defines Child Support as: The legal obligation of parents to contribute to the economic maintenance, including education, of their children; enforceable in both civil and criminal contexts. In a dissolution or custody action, money paid by one parent to another toward expenses of children of the marriage.
Child support is based on a formula. There are a number of factors that effect the child support obligation, including but not limited to the number of overnights allocated to each party and each party’s monthly gross income. Because child support is for the benefit of the child(ren) and not the receiving party, it is the intention of the formula to remove discretion when determining a child support obligation. Input the factors and out comes the obligation. The existence of the child support formula and lack of party discretion can sometimes, though not always, make child support one of the easier issues to resolve.
For additional information on navigating any domestic legal proceeding, check out Translation Tuesday: Common Legal Terms.
As always, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area to get a better understanding of how Colorado law applies to your circumstances.