Colorado Parenting Plans (Custody Agreements)

As part of your Colorado custody or divorce case affecting a minor child, you'll have a parenting plan. It describes how you'll raise your child. You're asked to propose a plan, and the final version becomes part of your court order for parental responsibilities.

If you have multiple children with the other parent, one plan addresses them all. Expect to follow the parenting plan for each child until they turn 18. Child support, though, continues at least until a child turns 19.

Of course, you'll adjust your parenting as your child grows. If you can anticipate those changes and build them into the plan, you may avoid returning to court.

Custody X Change is software that creates professional-quality parenting plans and schedules.

Make My Colorado Plan Now

Trying to agree on a plan

If you and the other parent agree on everything, the court encourages you to write your parenting plan together for approval by a judge.

If you agree on some points but not others, you can still file a joint plan for the parts you agree on.

If you disagree on just about everything, you each write your own proposal for a parenting plan.

For any disagreement — small or large — you must also fill out a pretrial statement. In the pretrial statement, explain your points of disagreement and argue why your approach would better serve the child's best interests. You may need a hearing so the judge can resolve your dispute.

If the other parent doesn't participate in the case, the court usually approves your parenting plan. This might be a step-up plan to let an absent parent gradually increase involvement in the future. Step-up plans often include requirements for psychotherapy or for therapeutic or supervised parenting time.

Submitting a plan

Some parents agree on a parenting plan even before they open their case. Filing this along with the initial documents speeds the resolution of the case.

Other cases hinge on disagreements about the parenting plan. Those parents may wait to complete mediation or a parenting evaluation before proposing separate parenting plans to the court.

You're not required to propose a parenting plan to the court, but if you have a hearing where a temporary or permanent decision will be made, bringing a proposal is important. The proposed parenting plan will be considered an exhibit, and all exhibits are due seven days before the hearing.

Eventually, a judge will order a parenting plan you must follow. They may pick one of your plans. But if they reject both proposals — or if neither of you submits a proposal — the judge will write a plan for you.

Choosing a template

You are free to fill in Colorado's sample parenting plan, use the Custody X Change parenting plan template, create a plan from scratch or hire a lawyer to write one. You can also combine these options.

Many parents like the Custody X Change app because it offers more than 140 standard provisions for your plan while letting you add as many custom provisions as you need.

It lets you build a custody schedule by clicking and dragging in a calendar.

Then it inserts a legal description into your parenting plan, addressing regular days as well as holidays and school breaks.

In Colorado's form, you briefly describe your parenting schedule in your own words. Colorado's form uses the terms mother and father, so parents who don't use those titles may prefer a different template.

Basic provisions to include

A parenting plan needs to cover what's important to Colorado courts — and to your child. Be sure to address the following topics.

Decision-making

It's essential to consider educational, medical, religious and extracurricular decisions. (Judges increasingly demand information on how you'll make decisions in the last category.) Medical decisions are often split into three categories: therapeutic, dental and standard medical.

For each decision type, say whether you'll both contribute to decisions or, if not, which of you will have sole authority in that area. This is often referred to as legal custody in other states.

Parenting time

Provide your parenting time schedule. Consider the school year, summer, vacations and holidays.

Exactly when and where will you and the other parent exchange the child? What if school is canceled that day? What if you or your child is sick? Express your agreement clearly now so you can avoid going back to court later.

After making the schedule, you should know how many overnights within a 365-day period your child will spend with each of you. The number of overnights helps establish the amount of child support one of you pays the other.

Child support

When you turn in a parenting plan to the court, attach a completed child support worksheet. It determines the dollar amount that the state recommends one parent pay the other each month.

Parents often go beyond this and put their child support proposal into their parenting plan. To do this, include who will pay, how much the payments will be, and how and when the payments will be sent (e.g., if one parent will mail a check to the Family Support Registry or directly to the other parent on a specific day each month).

If you propose a different amount than the worksheet recommends, you have to explain why in writing. If the other parent disagrees, you'll have a hearing where the court approves or rejects your suggestion.

Married couples who have a separation agreement can choose to discuss child support in the separation agreement instead.

Other provisions not to forget

You don't want to make any assumptions. Instead, state your essential parenting rules explicitly.

If you like these common rules, include them:

  • You'll share your contact info, and the contact info for your child's doctors, with the other parent.
  • You'll both have access to your child's school and medical records.
  • Either of you can authorize emergency medical treatment.
  • You'll make day-to-day decisions when it's your parenting time.

And address any of these issues that feel important to you:

For extracurriculars, consider schedules and equipment. Some parents write in the parenting plan that they won't schedule activities that fall during the other parent's time without consent. Decide which parent will look after the equipment or if you'll take turns. This is especially important for pricey items, like snowboards, that your child will only have one of.

Think about values that you and the other parent might not share. For example, what if your child someday wants their ear pierced? Can you, or the other parent, take the child for the ear piercing without consulting the other? What about a tattoo?

It's wise to include a section in your plan that explains how you'll resolve future arguments. For example, you could promise to first negotiate one-on-one, then try mediation, then file a court case as a last resort.

Putting these sorts of things in your parenting plan can give you clarity in the future.

The easiest way to make a parenting plan

When you're writing a parenting plan, it's critical you use airtight language that leaves no room for interpretation. You must also be careful not to omit any information required by the court.

If you hire a lawyer or mediator, they'll write up the plan and ensure it meets the court's requirements.

If you write your own plan, use technology to take guesswork out of the equation. The parenting plan template in the Custody X Change online app walks you through each step.

The result is a professional document that demonstrates your competence as a parent from the first glance.

The easiest and most reliable way to make a parenting plan is with Custody X Change.

Custody X Change is software that creates professional-quality parenting plans and schedules.

Make My Colorado Plan Now

Custody X Change is software that creates professional-quality parenting plans and schedules.

Make My Plan
x

Custody X Change is software that creates professional-quality parenting plans and schedules.

Make My Colorado Plan Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan