By Brenda L. Storey, Esq.
There is an urban myth out there that Colorado is a 50-50 parenting time state. I have even had potential new clients tell me this is the law. It simply is not accurate. Colorado parental responsibilities actions are based upon the best interests of the specific child, with no presumption in favor of a father, a mother, or equal time.
I have been doing this now for over twenty-five years, and while it is true that some custody arrangements end in equal time with each parent, others do not. What works for some children, and their families, does not work for others. It is the specific needs of the particular child that matter.
I have been very protective of my personal life, and that of my children. But now that my youngest is an adult, I have a bit more flexibility in what I can share. When I went through my divorce, the children’s father pushed for a 50-50 parenting schedule. I agreed on an interim basis when he moved out of the marital home. Our children melted down under that time sharing, and we eventually adjusted so that they were based primarily with me. While they greatly improved with the new schedule, that period of equal time took its emotional toll on them, especially the youngest. I am grateful that their father was able to put their needs ahead of his own and transition them to a different schedule that better suited them. I still regret even trying the equal time, given the negative impact on the children. Our divorce was in a county with a reputation for ordering 50-50 parenting. However, I knew that was not best for my children and was willing to fight for them to protect them emotionally and developmentally. This was tested a few years after our divorce, when their father moved to modify the parenting time to equal. A neutral child expert was appointed and we went all the way through trial. Yes, I have been there, too. No changes were made to their schedule, being primarily based with me. Today, as they are adults, they are successful in their lives – healthy, happy, kind, loving, and excelling in their respective schooling. A huge part of that success is that we got the parenting time “right” for them.
So, not only do I know the law to not be 50-50, but I lived through it twice, coming out on the other side. The key continues to be no presumptions. Instead, the children are to be the focus, not what the parents want or think is fair. Each child is unique, and the parenting plan needs to be tailored to that child. No one size fits all.