How Do I File for Child Custody?

Laura E. Shapiro -

You can file for child custody during a divorce or a legal separation. If you are a parent but not married to the child’s other parent, you can still file a petition for custody.

In fact, if a child has been in your care for six months or longer, in the last six months, you are able to file whether or not you are a parent.

In Colorado, child custody is also called Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (APR). Filing for APR is a complex legal process. Before you take action, contact Shapiro Family Law.

Our Denver child custody lawyers can protect your rights and provide legal guidance during the process.

Call us at 303-695-0200 to speak with an attorney about your case.

Child Holding Parents Hands Together

What Is APR?

APR replaces the traditional concept of child custody and visitation. Your APR agreement will determine two key details about your case: decision-making and parenting time.


This deals with how you and your child’s other parent will make major decisions involving your child’s medical care, education, religion, and other welfare issues.

Parenting Time

Once called “visitation,” this refers to how much time your child will spend with you and the other parent.

Parenting time involves developing a schedule for both parents to spend with their child. The parent who keeps the child most of the time will be the “primary care parent.” The other parent will have parenting time.

Should I File an APR Petition With the Other Parent?

If you and the other parent have discussed the parental responsibilities you each agree to share APR, you can file a stipulation once the case has commenced.

Generally speaking, one parent will be a “petitioner,” and the other parent will be a “co-petitioner” or Respondent

Mediation Might Help You Decide on Parental Responsibilities

Divorce mediation could help you and the other parent work through your parental responsibility issues. Shapiro Family Law offers divorce and family law mediation. Contact us for more information.

How Does the Court Determine Parenting Time?

The Court determines parenting time-as well as decision-making responsibilities-in the best interests of the child. Numerous factors impact this decision, including but not limited to:

  • The parents’ wishes;
  • The child’s wishes;
  • The child’s interactions and relationships with their parents, brothers, sisters, and other important individuals;
  • Which parent has spent the most time caring for the child;
  • The mental and physical health of the parties;
  • The physical distance between the parents; and
  • Whether a parent has a history of abuse or neglect.

Do I Have to Submit Other Documents With My APR Petition?

You must verify a Petition for APR.

It is beneficial for you to create a plan with the other parent, if at all possible. After all, who knows what works best for your child than you and the other parent? Additionally, working together helps to move the legal process along.

What If I Am Having Trouble Working With The Other Parent to Create a Parenting Plan?

If you cannot create a parenting plan with the other parent, you can prepare a parenting plan on your own, although the other parent may not agree with it. The Court can resolve issues that you and the other parent cannot agree on.

If you are having trouble creating a plan with the other parent, contact Shapiro Family Law. We can help you create a plan that is fair to you and the other parent and works in the best interests of your child.

How Can I Get Help With My Child Custody Case?

At Shapiro Family Law, our family law attorneys have extensive experience helping parents resolve their legal issues, including divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, and child support.

If you have questions or concerns and want legal guidance, call us today at 303-695-0200 to schedule a consultation.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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