Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (Custody)

The legal “custody” process in Colorado is called “allocation of parental responsibilities” (APR).  A parent can file an APR or custody case whether or not they are married to the child’s other parent. 

APR (custody) deals with how much parenting time each parent may have with their child if the parents do not live together. Either the parents can agree on how much time each parent gets with the child, or the court decides, based on the “best interest of the child” (BIOC).  BIOC is a complex legal issue that a court decides after considering many factors.

The court can also set other limits for parenting time. For example, the court can say parenting time must be supervised by another adult, tell parents where to exchange the child for parenting time, and/or that the parents have to be sober (not under the influence of alcohol or drugs) during parenting time.

APR (custody) also deals with who can make different types of decisions for the child. In the APR process, the parents can agree who gets to make decisions about a child’s health care, education, religion, and extracurricular activities (like sports).  If the parents can’t decide on their own, the court will make the decision.

Either parent can start an APR case. Usually, the child must have lived in Colorado for 6 months (182 days) before a case can be filed. But, there may still be custody options if the child has not lived in Colorado for 6 months. To learn more, please contact a Navigator.  

If parents file an APR case together, they are known as Petitioner and Co-Petitioner. If one parent files on their own, they are known as Petitioner and the other parent is known as Respondent.

Child custody can be a difficult and stressful process.

When intimate partner abuse has happened between the parents, victims and their children can face safety issues in the APR process. We strongly encourage victims of intimate partner abuse to speak with a Navigator about safety planning and other resources.

More information on steps to filing a custody case.
More information on other family law issues.
List of courts by county.

If you or someone you know needs help on this topic, click here for some Denver-based and national organizationsclick here for some Denver-based and national organizations that may help you.

To see Colorado statutes on allocation of parental responsibilities and custody, click here.

Post-Decree Family Law

“Post-decree” means a court case that happens after the Court has already made final rulings and orders in a family law. For example, a court may have ruled on child custody, parenting time, or child support in a divorce or custody case.

A post-decree case is when one of the people in the case asks the court, at a later date, to change or enforce the court’s order. This is sometimes done with a motion to modify, motion to enforce, or motion for contempt.

For example, if one parent wants to change the amount of time a child spends with the other parent, they might ask to the court to modify their parenting time order. Another example is if one parent is not paying child support like they are supposed to, the other parent might ask the court to force them to do so.  

Lots of post-decree cases happen after a divorce. But, post-decree cases can happen any time a court has made a custody order, even if the couple was never married.

A person who wants to enforce or change the court order has to go through “post-decree” litigation. Post-decree litigation is complicated. You should speak to a qualified family law attorney for further information.